Evidence is mounting of the prevalence of Celiac Disease and it's implication in the development of other autoimmune disorders. But where is the response from the medical community? It seems there are more than a few barriers preventing traditional medical practitioners from grasping the gravity of the situation.
Here are a few:
1. Physicians believe that Celiac Disease is rare. Since only 1 out of 4,700 people are diagnosed in the United States, it seems that few cases exist. However, according to a study completed by Dr. Alessio Fassano, Director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland, at least 1 in 133 people in the United States suffers from Celiac Disease. That means 97% of sufferers remain undiagnosed.
2. Denial of nutrition's role in autoimmune disorders. This is true both for the general public and medical practitioners. If we “are what we eat,” why do many gastroenterologists throw medication at a problem when simply changing our diet could resolve the issue entirely?
3. Insurance and Pharmaceutical Companies lose money. Insurance companies denied payment for an intestinal biopsy (to confirm a diagnosis of celiac disease) for 21% of patients with a positive blood test in a study published on February 10, 2003 in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Insurance companies deny these tests so they don't lose money. Pharmaceutical companies also profit from selling medications that mitigate Celiac Disease symptoms, without resolving the core illness. Currently, medications such as AT-1001 and CCX-281 are being developed which allow Celiac Disease sufferers to continue to eat gluten. These drug sales could reach $8 billion by 2019.
Don't let insurance companies, pharmaceutical businesses, or misinformed medical practitioners stand in the way of your health. If you or a loved one suffers from symptoms of gluten intolerance, get tested as soon as possible.