A study published in February found that people living north of certain latitudes in the US were more likely to have celiac disease.
· The study included over 22,000 people across the United States
· A total of 0.7 percent of those interviewed had been diagnosed with celiac disease
· In the lowest latitudes, (35 degrees latitude and below) only 0.2 percent of the participants had CD. (For reference, this is south of Memphis, Charlotte, and Santa Fe)
· The prevalence rose to 0.6 percent in those living at latitudes between 35 and 40.
· In latitudes 40 degrees and further north, 1.2 percent of people interviewed had CD. (40 degrees latitude includes cities such as New York City, Boulder, Colorado, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Interestingly, another study published the same month estimated the rate of celiac disease to be 3.1 percent in adolescents in Denver, CO. Denver is located just above 39 degrees latitude.
Some other notes:
· The first study also found a higher prevalence of CD in those with more than twelve years of education. (My assumption would be that this link may correlate with an increased ability and likelihood to go to the doctor regularly and have the means to get tested for various conditions.)
· An increased prevalence of CD was also found in those who were overweight or obese. This is quite interesting considering that in the past, people with celiac disease were thought to be underweight and malnourished (although you can absolutely be overweight or obese and malnourished as well).
Although these are just two studies and we can’t really make sweeping conclusions based on them, it brings additional questions to mind, such as:
· Is an increased prevalence of CD in higher latitudes consistent around the world or only in the US?
· Could the risk of CD be related to vitamin D levels, as those north of 40 degrees are likely exposed to less natural sunlight throughout the year?
· Could the higher incidence be, at least in part, due to higher diagnosis, not necessarily higher susceptibility? (Maybe doctors in the northern latitudes are more likely to suspect and test for CD than those in the south for various reasons?)
· If 1.2 percent of people in northern latitudes had CD, what percentage of people are still undiagnosed?
· Does the study showing an increased prevalence of CD in adolescents in Denver indicate a link to higher risk of CD due to location, and/or age? Could the younger generations have a higher rate of diagnosis due to new risk factors?
Of course, these are all questions that require more research. Although we do not have the answers to many of the questions regarding celiac disease, research in this area continues to expand, and more and more clues are being uncovered that have the potential to help with understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and maybe even prevention of celiac disease down the road.
Here are links to the two articles referenced above:
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Did you know that many personal care products, including lotions, shampoos, conditioners, makeup, toothpaste and lip balm can contain gluten?
Experts agree that gluten on the skin does not get absorbed in a way that can harm the digestive system of someone with celiac disease, even in the case of dermatitis herpetiformis (a skin manifestation of celiac disease). However, certain products should be purchased gluten free.
Any product that goes in your mouth or on your lips is likely to be ingested and could therefore cause symptoms and damage just like gluten in food. It is important to make sure these items are gluten free.
For most people, this includes lip balm, lipstick, toothpaste, and mouthwash at a minimum.
I am also careful with any personal care products that I may inadvertently ingest, including lotion, hand sanitizer and most makeup. Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash are other items to consider purchasing gluten free. This is especially important to think about as the parent of a child with celiac disease, as kids are quite likely to accidentally get these products in their mouths. Your level of strictness in purchasing your personal products is up to you, but if you are at all concerned about the possibility of getting certain products getting into your mouth, I would purchase them gluten free. Many people figure, why risk the possibility if they can find products that they like?
Check your personal products, some may be labeled gluten free. If they aren’t, you may need to do a little digging to find out if they contain gluten or not. You can check online or call the company directly.
To give you a head start, here are some recently updated articles with information about gluten free products: