Food for Thought: Celiac affects more people than first thought

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A silly act is something Jerry Lewis might do, which is not to be confused with celiac, and there`s nothing funny about this disease that affects millions of Americans.

Celiac disease is an auto-immune disorder that runs in families.

Celiac causes gluten to attack the small intestine and keeps the body from absorbing nutrients. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, which means it`s in breads and pastas and many other foods, like soy sauce, beer, soups, and salad dressing.

If left untreated, celiac can lead to Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, anemia, infertility and miscarriages, neurological disorders like epilepsy and migraines, and intestinal cancers.

Doctors used to think celiac was a pediatric condition until adults started showing symptoms.

Now, a 15-year study out of Italy suggests doctors don`t know what they thought they knew about the disease.

The shocker is that constipation, reflux, vomiting, and other gut problems have replaced diarrhea as the leading celiac symptoms.

And thyroid disease turned out to be the most common illness among the study`s celiac suffers.

Yeah, this is huge, especially since the researchers think about 1 percent of the world`s population has celiac disease. That`s about 70 million, or more than 2.5 times the population of Texas.

And here`s something else to think about: According to some estimates, doctors only diagnose 17 percent of celiac cases in the United States.

In Great Britain, doctors test for celiac when patients come in with migraines or iron deficiency.

Many symptoms can be connected to celiac, as one of the researchers pointed out, which may be another good reason to talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

And that`s more than just food for thought.