Not an allergy

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I would like to respond to the assertion that celiac disease is an “allergy to gluten.” (“A unique way to stop bean flatus,” Dec. 10).

Celiac is a dangerous autoimmune disease, whereby the intestinal lining is damaged by gluten, a substance found in wheat, rye and barley. The body turns on itself and the resulting damage hinders the absorption of the nutrients required to remain healthy.

For celiacs, the ingestion of gluten can result in an increased risk of type 1 diabetes, certain cancers of the gut, and infertility. Indeed, it can be fatal if not treated. While there is no cure, celiac disease can be managed through a strict, gluten-free diet for life.

Classifying it as an allergy may reinforce the perception of seriousness, but there is no allergic reaction involved. Rather, it is an autoimmune disease, akin to cancer. While it may seem unusual for food ingestion to be associated with an autoimmune disease, for us it is a fact of life. One in 133 Canadians suffer from celiac disease and many more are gluten intolerant.

While many people are going gluten-free for a variety of reasons, for us it is a medical necessity.

Mark Johnson

national secretary

Canadian Celiac Association


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Recent comments

  • Lorelei Dean
    November 02, 2013 - 12:04

    I was just diagnosed and mis-information on Celiacs Disease is astounding. Not only that with so many going gluten free as a weigh to lose weight, I had comments like "gluten free is the newest fad".