People with celiac disease are at greater risk for premature death. That’s the conclusion of a new study from Sweden. The investigators used health records from the Swedish Total Population Register and found that those who had evidence of damage in the small intestine due to gluten sensitivity were almost 40 percent more likely to die over a specified period of time.
Celiac disease is an auto-immune condition triggered by exposure to the gluten protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Heart disease and cancer accounted for most of the increased risk of death. The researchers point out that the absolute excess mortality was quite small, so there is no need to panic. Nevertheless, it is important for people to be tested for this condition. It is more common than many physicians have been taught.
[Journal of the American Medical Association, Sept. 16, 2009]