News

Pennsylvania Resolution Aims to Increase Celiac Disease Awareness Statewide


PA Legislature proclaims April ‘Celiac Disease Awareness Month.’

Ambler, PA, April 03, 2009 –(PR.com)– Legislation passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives General Assembly recognizes April 2009 as the state’s official ‘Celiac Disease Awareness Month’. With the passing of House Resolution 153 (HR 153), Pennsylvania takes the lead in raising awareness for celiac disease as the most common and most undiagnosed autoimmune disorder in the United States.

HR 153 was ratified unanimously, 196-0, on March 31st, 2009 with the assistance of its prime sponsor, state representative Craig A. Dally (R).

Geoffrey M. Roche, advocacy chairman for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) and resident of Bethlehem, PA, collaborated extensively with representative Dally on the creation and development of HR153, and lobbied for its passage in the State House of Representatives.

“I would like to thank my State Representative, Craig Dally, and the entire State House for recognizing the impact this disease has on many Pennsylvanians and for assisting the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness in creating awareness that will ensure individuals with celiac get diagnosed, and correctly manage the disease.” says Roche. “I understand first hand the impact this disease has on one’s life and the need for education and awareness across our entire nation.”

The entire resolution in its entirety can be read on the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness website, www.celiaccentral.org.

Roche’s role in the successful sanctioning of HR153 and his passionate efforts on behalf of NFCA, stem from his personal experience with celiac disease, having been diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder just 11 months ago.

NFCA founder and president Alice Bast describes HR153 as, “‘The first step in reforming the US health care system in relation to autoimmune diseases, preventive care and chronic disease management.”

NFCA and Roche aim to pass similar resolutions in every state nationwide, providing assistance and resources for citizens working on legislative efforts for the purpose of spreading awareness of celiac disease, a disease which current estimates suggest affect 1 in every 133 Americans. Only 120,000 of individuals with the autoimmune digestive disorder, roughly 1 in every 4700, have been diagnosed.

“Early assessment of celiac is crucial in preventing the onset of complications such as other autoimmune disorders, serious illnesses, and some cancers for individuals with this disease.” says Bast.

Those interested in enacting legislation in their states should contact the NFCA at info@celiaccentral.org, by phone (215) 325-1306 ext.101, or visit the ‘Get Involved’ section on the NFCA website, www.celiaccentral.org for information.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. It is triggered by consumption of the protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. Left untreated, people with celiac disease can develop further complications such as other autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, thyroid disease, and some cancers. An estimated three million Americans have celiac disease, but only about 1 in every 4700 with the disease receives an accurate diagnosis. Currently, the only treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet.

###

NFCA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funding for celiac disease that will advance research, education and screening amongst medical professionals, children and adults. Visit www.celiaccentral.org or call 215-325-1306 for further information.

Contact Information
National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
Whitney Ehret
215-325-1306
whitney@celiaccentral.org
www.celiaccentral.org

Shared Genes in Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease


A 2008 study provides more evidence that there is a link between celiac disease and gluten. This article in Scientific American reviews the study.

Diabetes and celiac disease: A Genetic Connection
Patients with type 1 diabetes have been known to be more prone to another autoimmune disorder, celiac disease, in which gluten in wheat, rye and barley triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine or gut. Now there’s evidence that the two diseases have a genetic link: they share at least seven chromosome regions.

The discovery, published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, indicates that both diseases may be triggered by similar genetic and environmental mechanisms, such as certain foods, that cause patients’ immune systems to become overactive and destroy healthy instead of infected tissue. Previous research has found that celiac disease is five to 10 times more common in people with type 1 diabetes than in the general population, an editorial accompanying the study notes.

“These findings suggest common mechanisms causing both celiac and type 1 diabetes – we did not expect to see this very high degree of shared genetic risk factors,” said study co-author David van Heel, a gastrointestinal geneticist at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Van Heel and his colleagues studied genetic material or DNA from about 20,000 people, half of them healthy, nearly half with type 1 diabetes, and 2,000 with celiac disease. The overlapping genetic variants occurred on regions of chromosomes (parts of cells that carry genetic code) that are believed to regulate the gut’s immune system, the BBC notes.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy beta cells in the pancreas that produce the hormone insulin, which is needed to convert glucose into energy. In celiac disease, a similar attack occurs on the small intestine when sufferers eat gluten-rich grains, causing inflammation in the gut that can lead to bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, anemia, headaches, weight loss and failure to thrive in children. Whereas diabetes 1 patients must inject insulin daily to make up for their deficiency, people with celiac disease can avoid damage and symptoms by sticking to a gluten-free diet.

“The finding raises the question of whether eating cereal and other gluten products might trigger type 1 diabetes by altering the function of the gut and its interaction with the pancreas, the authors write. But Robert Goldstein, chief scientific officer of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which helped fund the study, says it would be premature to assume from this study that gluten is also a diabetes trigger.

“I fear the newspaper headlines in the popular press will read like, ‘Eating wheat will cause type 1 diabetes,’” Goldstein tells us. “The presence or absence of these associations has to be linked to some biological consequence” for a person’s health.

Article Source: http://www.sciam.com/blog/60-second-science/post.cfm?id=diabetes-and-celiac-disease-a-genet-2008-12-11

*UK Study Source: Shared and Distinct Genetic Variants in Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease, New England Journal of Medicine. http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/NEJMoa0807917

Become a Member and Get All This! Show Me!
+