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Researchers Pinpoint Cause of Gluten Allergies

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the no-more-reuben-sandwich-on-soy dept.

Biotech 177

An anonymous reader writes "When patients with celiac disease consume foods containing gluten — a protein present in wheat, barley and rye — their immune systems send out an alarm, triggering a response that can damage their intestines and prevent them from absorbing certain nutrients. Now, scientists have pinpointed the culprits most responsible for this harmful reaction: three small fragments within the gluten protein that spark chaos in the gut."

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Slashdotters (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174854)

Do you have a cunt allergy? Is that why you avoid it so much?

Man, I could be a researcher. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174872)

"I, boldly declare today, that I have pinpointed the cause of gluten allergies...gluten!"

double standard (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33174880)

If gluten hurts you, you have a disease.
If arsenic hurts you, arsenic is a poison.

Who gets to decide whether you're the problem, or the substance is?

Re:double standard (4, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174992)

Who gets to decide whether you're the problem, or the substance is?

The percentage of people who are harmed by arsenic (100) vs. the percentage of people who are harmed by gluten (small).

Re:double standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175442)

I think you can find substances (lactose, capsaicin, ...) that affect various fractions of people (10%, 50%, 90%, etc). What is the cutoff?

Re:double standard (2, Insightful)

Ziwcam (766621) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175516)

Does capsaicin kill you? In order for something to be a poison, the LD50 must be a small enough dose that a reasonable person could accidentally, or intentionally, consume it in a reasonable period of time. "a substance that, when introduced into or absorbed by a living organism, causes death or injury, esp. one that kills by rapid action even in a small quantity" lactose and capsaicin don't fall under that category.

Re:double standard (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175816)

Does capsaicin kill you?

Yes; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsaicin#Acute_health_effects [wikipedia.org]
While the LD50 isn't quite that small, it's still possible to get a lethal dose that's not too bulky.

Besides I remember reading that hot pepper powder was used as a method to execute prisoners in one of the ancient Middle Eastern societies (I forget which one - Persia?) and even in the 19th-20th centuries it was still used by murderers in SE Asia.

Re:double standard (2, Insightful)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175506)

The percentage of people who are harmed by arsenic (100) vs. the percentage of people who are harmed by gluten (small).

For pure arsenic, that's true. It still has its uses in medicine, such as oncology where it works better than iodine for locating tumors.

Oh, and have you eaten fish lately? You probably consumed a milligram of arsenic. But, since you're reading this, I'll assume you're still alive and well.

Re:double standard (-1, Flamebait)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175648)

Oh, and have you eaten fish lately? You probably consumed a milligram of arsenic. But, since you're reading this, I'll assume you're still alive and well.

Don't bother, he's a fucking idiot and like most people has no idea what's in the food he eats...

Gluten (4, Insightful)

phorm (591458) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175698)

Yes, as mentioned, arsenic is a poison because it's deadly to pretty much everyone (though supposedly you can build a tolerance), and additionally it's not exactly common in the stuff we eat (except where we've poisoning land with heavy metal from discarded electronics).

Gluten, on the other hand, is in pretty much f***'ing everything. Preservatives in canned food, wheat-products, tons of stuff. It also has this tendency to follow family-lines. However, since the full tests usually involve fun things like biopsies, a *lot* of people don't know they have it. However, the numbers of those with gluten-intolerance isn't as small as one might think.

Maybe it's just IMHO, but I think that trying to eliminate a condition which causes a smaller group of people to not be able to eat 80% of the food out there, vs one where it's just "don't eat poison", might not be such a bad thing. Of course the GP is probably a troll, but a lot of people don't seem to realize how serious celiac'ism is.

1 out of 117 has celiac (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33176242)

I saw this stat somewhere but I can't cite it unfortunately. But more precisely, it's 1 out of every 117 caucasian - it's quite a lot, but most people don't get tested or only experience the symptoms after years of gut damage in their middle-age.

Re:Gluten (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 4 years ago | (#33176862)

What's weird is... I mean... If evolution really works, how is there are so many cases of cieliacs and (a subsequent poster points out) peanut allergies. Obviously this isn't the case, but it seems like maybe they're the next step... too early to tell, but that they're here at all sort of tells us they're more likely to procreate. Why is this absurd and obviously incorrect?

Re:Gluten (4, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#33177134)

In the case of gluten allergies, two reasons:

  • The effect is cumulative and tends not to cause serious problems until well after the start of breeding age.
  • It seldom would be bad enough to kill you anyway.

Thus, it is neither a significant positive nor negative evolutionary pressure, so the percentage of expression should rise and fall almost randomly through history.

If you want to know the actual reason for the increase in gluten and peanut allergies lately, we have a pretty good idea:

  • The human body has historically not consumed such large quantities of wheat as we do today, thanks in part to better transportation and storage.
  • In countries that have historically consumed large amounts of wheat (e.g. parts of Europe that consume wheat-based pastas), the varieties of wheat grown in those areas contain significantly less gluten than the red wheat that is popular in the United States (which I think was originally indigenous to Russia).
  • Modern society has gotten so busy that few women breast feed infants as long as they should. As a result, children are exposed to real foods at an earlier time than ever before in the history of the human race. There is evidence that children exposed to gluten, peanuts, etc. too early in life are significantly more likely to develop an allergy to them.

Nothing evolutionary about it. It's predominantly societal and geographical.

Re:double standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175250)

Arsenic hurts everyone. Gluten does not.

Re:double standard (0)

zhong-guo (1872764) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175484)

Arsenic doesn't hurt dead people, because their nerves don't work properly.

Re:double standard (1)

superslacker87 (998043) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175638)

It's not the arsenic that kills you, it's the old lace.

Re:double standard (2, Insightful)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 4 years ago | (#33177204)

It's like what is discussed later on - arsenic kills you because of direct effect [wikipedia.org] of arsenic on the body. OTOH, gluten does nothing to the body, It is the body's reaction to the substance (AKA hypersensitivity reaction; AKA autoimmune disease) that causes the disease. So arsenic directly causes damage -> poison. The body reacts aberrantly to a substance and cause an immune reaction against it -> disease.

Here's hoping they can track down peanut allergies (3, Interesting)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174934)

I've always wondered what was the deal with food allergies. I say peanut allergies because it often provokes such an insane reaction. Is it genetic and those genes were always around but we never made the connection between food and symptons or is it something that developed as we changed or our environment changed?

There's other examples of our change of habitats. Heartburn/gastic reflux/stomach cancer is one I remember just off the top of my head.

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (2, Insightful)

JamesP (688957) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174982)

The deal is simple

Over cleanliness, over "fear of germs", soccer moms, etc, etc

let the kids play in dirt and eat stuff, no allergies

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175048)

Anecdotal.

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (3, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#33176530)

Actually, no. There is some evidence to support that position. Including both epidemiological and biochemical data. I'm not going to look it up for you, but there was a story on Slashdot a while ago.

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175058)

The deal is simple

soccer moms

[citation needed]

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (1)

blai (1380673) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175616)

Everyone is your citation. Ask how we grew up.

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 4 years ago | (#33176126)

Trolls... if they had something important to say they wouldn't be anonymous

Also they would give a better answer, like everybody else

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (5, Informative)

StWaldo (574433) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175060)

As a celiac'er myself, I can say that's not true. I ate dirt, played in the mud, my mom was not overprotective, and I still got critical anemia from damage to my gut from gluten. Also, as noted below, celiac/gluten intolerance is not an allergy - it's an autoimmune disorder.

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33177438)

When were you weaned off breast milk? When did you being eating solid foods?

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (3, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175102)

N, it's not so 'simple'. Although there is a tendency towards fewer environmental allergies in people exposed to a larger mix of allergens ('dirt and stuff') it's by no means a binary thing. Allergic reactions are complex and multifactorial. I don't think the driving force behind allergic responses is a Darwinian selection sort of thing (remember, not EVERYTHING is a selection factor). It may well be that the inherent complexity of the challenge - response systems in the immune system leads to 'problems'. Although the immune system is a hugely functional piece of kit (try living without one for a while) it is also responsible for many human diseases when it goes out of whack.

So let your kids play out in the back with the horses and hay but don't be surprised if they get celiac disease. That's apples and oranges. Or Yugos and Hummers. (Added to preempt the inevitable request for an automotive analogy.)

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175338)

You're right

Anyway, celiac disease is not an allergy (and it starts at a very early age), so yeah, eating dirt probably won't make it better...

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175580)

I'm definitely afraid of soccer moms...

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (1)

FalcDot (1224920) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175734)

Except that we're talking about food allergies here (yes, celiac's isn't an allergy, but the discussion drifted away from that).

I don't think you can deny that the typical diet of the modern western world has become very different from what it was 100 years ago. Better transportation has allowed us access to more and more 'foreign' foods and keeps making them cheaper and thus available to more families.

By your logic, the fact that people have become exposed to more and more different food allergens should mean food allergies should be declining. Which I doubt they are...

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (1)

SystemicPlural (1405625) | more than 4 years ago | (#33176258)

I didn't have an overly clean childhood. I am a very sensitive to gluten. Does my anecdotal evidence disprove your position?

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 4 years ago | (#33176274)

The parent mentioned allergies, and celiac disease is not an allergy

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (3, Insightful)

duh P3rf3ss3r (967183) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175050)

Historically, grains were a much poorer source of gluten than they are now. Through selective breeding and through milling processes that refine flour, wheat flour is now 13 to 23% gluten, depending on a number of factors, with whole grain flour being nearer the lower end of that range.

In addition, wheat generally and gluten specifically have become ubiquitous in the foods we eat. For example, soy sauce, which can easily be made gluten free, is often mainly wheat nowadays, especially the Japanese varieties of soy sauce. In the past, a person's gluten exposure was probably comparatively low and, combined with shorter life expectancies, gluten allergies were not as problematic.

Today, with wheat being in all sorts of foodstuffs, gluten allergies are becoming increasingly common, especially among middle-aged and elderly people. Our systems simply become so overwhelmed with gluten that the allergic inflammatory responses become a source of serious illness in some people. When coupled with the malabsoprtion syndrome that accompanies it, since an inflamed, damaged intestinal system absorbs poorly, vitamin deficiencies (especially vitamins E, D and K) gluten allergies cause real illness in many people.

Such illnesses probably remained sub-clinical in people in previous centuries but now, aided by enhanced severity, we better understand what's happening and we are better able to diagnose the trouble.

As for peanuts, just think of how peanuts have become readily available the world over and how they are contained in all sorts of foods, now. Historically, peanuts were a local food that formed a small part of the diet for people in areas near where they were found. In ways similar to what I mentioned above, peanut allergies are much more common and much more severe than ever before.

HTH

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (2, Interesting)

eclectro (227083) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175232)

Such illnesses probably remained sub-clinical in people in previous centuries but now, aided by enhanced severity, we better understand what's happening and we are better able to diagnose the trouble.

It's still sub-clinical. 97% of Celiacs are going undiagnosed and leading lives of increasing misery because gluten is in e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

As you so well pointed out, wheat is being used increasingly in heavily processed food because they have have hybridized the wheat kernel so much that they kernels are large and stuffed with gluten and is incredibly cheap to produce. But there is no reason that wheat has to be used other than it helps in making processed foods. The fact is there are other starch sources that easily could take the place of wheat. The fact is, humans are not dependent physiologically on the wheat kernel for anything.

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33176638)

I have Celiac's disease and I'd like to comment on wheat substitutes as I have first-hand experience with many. I will say up front, there really is no substitute for wheat. The combination of taste and texture cannot be matched at any cost. The substitution used depends on many factors, and the alternatives may involve adding 4-5 ingredients to replace the wheat.

Gluten is what gives wheat it's spongy/elastic texture. If you tried to make bread from rice or potatoes, it will crumble because these starches lack gluten. Any potato or rice bread you buy in the store or bake will invariably include a flour containing gluten(except those specifically designed to be gluten-free). There are really only two options here:
* Xanthan gum. This is a replacement protein used widely in gluten-free products. It is not cheap nor does it have any flavor.
* Guar gum. Similar to Xanthan but slightly cheaper and is a laxative.

Wheat has a certain taste. There is *NO* substitute that compares here as one cannot get wheat without gluten. The appropriate substitution here depends on the application.
* A common use for wheat flour is dusting so the product doesn't stick. There really isn't anything cheaper then wheat for this application but rice flour is as effective and has a very weak flavor.
* Breads can use a mix of flours based on tapioca, rice, potato or beans. All of these do not taste like wheat. Beans are a laxative and much more expensive. White rice and potato flour are not as nutritious.

Some gluten-containing starches have desired chemical properties.
* Almost all beer is made from barley or wheat and therefore contains gluten.

Wheat has a good shelf-life.
* Anything potato or rice based baked good must be refrigerated and even then only lasts about half as long.
* All the aforementioned flours need to be stored refrigerated whereas wheat flour does not.

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (3, Insightful)

mrjb (547783) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175588)

wheat flour is now 13 to 23% gluten .

[citation needed]. Gluten is wheat protein, right? When I buy flour, the protein content is stated and typically ranges from roughly 10-12% (12% being the "strong", high-protein variety, such as this flour [sainsburys.co.uk] ). If you're going to claim twice the protein content in wheat flour, please back those claims up with evidence.

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (3, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175632)

His numbers are crap, you are closer to the mark.

I know Red Wheats, its what I grew up farming. It ranges from 8 to 16% protein.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheat [wikipedia.org]
http://www.eolss.net/ebooks/Sample%20Chapters/C10/E5-21-04-04.pdf [eolss.net]
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/crops/00555.html [colostate.edu]
http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_c587d5a6-a1e0-11df-abc5-001cc4c03286.html [billingsgazette.com]

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (1)

duh P3rf3ss3r (967183) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175732)

You're right, of course. I'd intended to say that wheat protein is 13 to 23% gluten, although, admittedly, I was pulling those numbers from an increasingly feeble memory. Thanks for catching that and correcting the record.

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (2, Interesting)

rs79 (71822) | more than 4 years ago | (#33177324)

"When coupled with the malabsoprtion syndrome that accompanies it, since an inflamed, damaged intestinal system absorbs poorly, vitamin deficiencies (especially vitamins E, D and K) gluten allergies cause real illness in many people."

There are some far reaching implications of this. Nerotransmitters are made in the gut, some of these (ie, GABA) regulate mood. If the gut is compromised enough so few are made that mental problems can be the result. Some parents of autistic children have found that withholding gluten can cause a cessation of symptoms. You may also notice too that people that you know with mental problems often gave gut problems or eat a lot of sugar (which promotes candida growth which compromises the villi in the gut thus again preventing absorption of nutrients).

One of the standard nutritional medicine protocols is to stop sugar, push yourt to repopulate the gut and take large doses of supplements so the inefficient gut actually absorbs enough to actually do the body some good.

The lack of, say B3 can induce schizophrenia. google "pellagra"; this is the reason all white flour is enriched - to prevent insanity.

Abram Hoffer asserted that 80% of schizophrenics could be cured with vitamins and diet based on his empirical observations over 50 years.

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (-1, Flamebait)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175070)

Let's say a baby pops out with some random mutation, makes him allergic to peanuts. In the proper scheme of things, he would eat peanuts, die and not pass his inferior genes on. That's evolution, survival of the fittest. But the very same liberals who denounce creationism are trying to deny evolution with their modern science and medicine. Meanwhile, the third world dark skins are breeding like rabbits. Their inferior genes die off and superior genes survive, creating a race of super humans. Right now, black muslims are conquering Europe and mexicans are conquering the US. Thanks a lot, liberal assholes.

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (4, Interesting)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175154)

You can acquire an allergy via exposure. A good example is powdered latex gloves. The powder, usually corn starch, picks up small amounts of latex protein and rubs it into the pores of your skin. The powder can also get into the air and carry latex into the lungs. As exposure continues, the risk of having a problem rises. This is a large issue for health care workers, and many of them are switching to non-powdered vinyl gloves. ANYONE can get a reaction if they get enough exposure, but it may take 20 years for some people to see an effect. Other people do have a predisposition to develop food or other allergies, there is more information available here. [ufl.edu]

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175658)

And yet, exposure can also damp down and finally eliminate an allergy. We seem to be missing something here...

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (2, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#33177168)

Age of first exposure. From Wikipedia:

A 2005 prospective and observational study found that timing of the exposure to gluten in childhood was an important risk modifier. People exposed to wheat, barley, or rye before the gut barrier has fully developed (within the first three months after birth) had five times the risk of developing coeliac disease relative to those exposed at four to six months after birth. Those exposed even later than six months after birth were found to have only a slightly increased risk relative to those exposed at four to six months after birth.

Women don't breast feed their kids long enough. They put them on formula a week out of the womb, then try to get them to eat solid foods as soon as they can because breast feeding and formula are a hassle. The result is a huge increase in food allergies.

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#33177180)

Oh, forgot to link to the relevant article [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 4 years ago | (#33177230)

Although you are right that prolonged breast-feeding is associated with a lower incidence of Celiac, it is important to note that most infant formulas do not contain Gluten [surefoodsliving.com] .

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (3, Insightful)

Kurofuneparry (1360993) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175274)

Hypersensitive and allergic reactions have been understood in medicine in varying degrees since ancient times but as a medical student I can tell you that we still know very little. What we do know? Few if any true allergies are truly genetic. Rather, some genes predispose to gathering many allergies and most allergies are gained well after birth. Any honest researcher in the field will share your wonderment about allergies, because we still have much to learn.

Actually, stomach cancer is MORE common in less urban/developed habitats. Affluence and American diets decrease stomach cancer. No research has explained this but the data is unambiguous: something about eating while not poor means LESS stomach cancer. I know, usually you hear about how bad the western diet is (and it's true, high fat + low fiber => colon cancer). Ulcers and heartburn have likely plagued people since before civilization as we know it.

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175610)

It's a combination of things including really bad medical advice from "experts", people thinking their floors need to be suitable for operating on and a statistically small number of genuine immune abnormalities.

For example, pregnant women, particularly in the UK, were advised to avoid peanuts in case the baby turns out to be allergic (who knows why, I've never heard of that causing a problem). It turns out that lack of peanut protean exposure in-utero results in MORE peanut allergies and more serious peanut allergies. Meanwhile, parents are often advised to keep foods that provoke a mild allergic reaction away from their kids. Again, I cannot imagine why since we know that de-sensitization (which requires exposure) works.

Then floors get cleaned to ludicrous degrees. It's hard to say what's worse there, the removal of things we have evolved with for millions of years, the addition of all sorts of things designed to deaden the sense of smell so that the product doesn't smell repulsive (to me, the 'fragrance' smells far more repulsive than the chemicals it's supposed to cover) or the addition of things we have no idea what they might do because no safety study is required.

It could even be our increasingly stressful societies. We know that stress can cause the immune system to go out of control both causing autoimmune reactions and weakening the reactions against pathogens. Perhaps it can also whip up a bad reaction to a neutral substance as well.

Re:Here's hoping they can track down peanut allerg (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175818)

Coeliac disease generally isn't regarded in the same sense as a peanut allergy. It's an immune response which causes the body to attack itself. Gluten intolerance won't kill you if you ingest gluten by accident although doing so can have very unpleasant long and short term effects.

My kids have it and believe me it's a huge disruption. If they eat gluten by accident it turns them as white as a sheet and there is a good chance they'll puke their guts up for a day. The only known "cure" to coeliac disease is not ingest gluten at all which easier said than done especially for kids. So many processed foods contain wheat as a hidden ingredient that you have to scrutinize the ingredients list very carefully. Wheat starch for example could trigger a reaction but many foods don't even bother to say what kind of starch they contain. Most coeliac societies publish thick books to help figure out which foods are gluten free and which are not.

Gluten free fad (2, Interesting)

CaptBubba (696284) | more than 4 years ago | (#33174948)

In addition to allowing gluten to be made more tolerable to those with Celiac disease, I wonder if the discovery of the proteins responsible will lead to a quick and easy test for immune reaction. Something similar to the TB skin test would be great.

A quick, easy to interpret, cheap test may serve to stem the tide of people self-diagnosing as gluten intolerant. I guess as fads go this one is fairly innocuous, with the only real downside being slightly higher prices to subsidize the "gluten free" versions of foods on menus at restaurants. Of course some sites promote it as a cure for all diseases, but that's always the case with any diet. It must be a godsend to real Celiac sufferers though. All of a sudden the gluten-free products they can eat are much more accessible.

Re:Gluten free fad (1, Informative)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175054)

There already are tests for celiac disease that are fairly quick and easy to interpret. it's the same problem as with all the other tests though: someone has to think of doing it. And BTW, the TB skin test you're referring to is in fact a lot more complex to interpret than you think.

Will this discovery lead to a change in the way we're approaching celiac disease? Most likely yes, however I wouldn't hold my breath. Check back in another 5, perhaps even 10 years and we'll see what(if anything) comes out of it.

Re:Gluten free fad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175252)

There already are tests for celiac disease that are fairly quick and easy to interpret.

No, that's not really the case. The Celiac disease test requires patients be consuming gluten - if a patient has stopped their normal gluten intake, the antibodies won't be present. A positive test result will indicate that an intestinal biopsy should be done to confirm. Only the biopsy results are currently considered sufficient for a positive diagnosis.

A friend was recently told by a doctor that she probably suffers from Celiac disease, but that getting results from cutting out gluten is cheaper and easier than the test. Moreover, the biopsy isn't a sure shot - she was told that it's possible for Celiac disease patients to have sections of intestine that aren't severly damaged, or aren't yet severly damaged enough. So I think that something like the original poster's test would be an improvement.

Re:Gluten free fad (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175912)

See my reply below. The intestinal biopsy, while still considered by some the gold standard, is almost never practiced anymore due to availability of much better blood tests recently. There are however doctors out there who don't stay current and recommend outdated tests. And yes, this is an example of test which was cutting edge in 2006 but isn't anymore.

Re:Gluten free fad (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 4 years ago | (#33177250)

Well, according to the text books and updated sites [medscape.com] , biopsy of the gut is still a criterion standard for diagnosis of Gluten and thus needs to be performed so the presence of the disease is confirmed. I suspect that many times biopsy is not performed because of non-medical reasons - either financial ones or because the patient is unsuitable/unwilling to undergo a biopsy.

Re:Gluten free fad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175380)

Are you trolling? You have to expose yourself and then do an endoscopic exam with a biopsy.
That is not what people generally think of as "quick and easy"

Re:Gluten free fad (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175886)

No, I'm not trolling. Once you get exposed to gluten in childhood and the antibodies are formed, they will be basically present and testable in the blood for a very long time, even if the exposure ceases. The current generation of antibody based tests (transglutaminase IgA antibodies) are good enough that you don't need the prolonged exposure and biopsy anymore.

I see no way the discovery we're talking about can lead to a generation of tests that completely precludes exposure to gluten - in other words, prenatal diagnosis. Now THAT would be nice, but unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Re:Gluten free fad (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 4 years ago | (#33177266)

Actually, in the link [medscape.com] I gave above, it says that the antibodies are present for only 6-12 month. I personally think that this does not come under the definition of "a very long time", but you may think otherwise.

Re:Gluten free fad (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175108)

In addition to allowing gluten to be made more tolerable to those with Celiac disease,

Why should people be forced into eating gluten? When the wheat kernel is eaten, the entirety of the kernel is destroyed. Gluten in the wheat kernel could be an adaptation to prevent animals from eating the seed in the first place.

Even though this researcher found the specific peptides that cause problems for Celiacs, the fact is nobody entirely digests the gluten protein in bread. The only thing nutritional about bread is that it is a starchy carbohydrate and it might have a small amount of fiber. Otherwise most flour is artificially "enriched."

Wheat/gluten is not the wonderful food source that it is made out to be, and human existence is not dependent on eating it. Producers love it though because it's a cheap food source with a high profit margin that they can be used as filler in all the processed food in boxes out there.

Re:Gluten free fad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175178)

No one should be forced into eating wheat, but it tastes awfully good. They might want to eat it.

Re:Gluten free fad (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175258)

They might want to eat it.

Are you sure? Or is it all the sugar, salt, butter, and grease that goes along with wheat products that people really want to eat?

Re:Gluten free fad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175350)

I take it you think everyone should give up drinking beer too right?

Re:Gluten free fad (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175868)

Beer is an optional beverage that has not been made an integral ingredient to everything on the store shelf. People do not have to buy beer to fix dinner. But they are led to buy a host of other products to fix meals.

But beyond that, beer will induce health problems with long term consumption. This is regardless of whether anyone thinks people should give up drinking it or not.

Re:Gluten free fad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33176182)

Beer used to be an almost mandatory beverage, before proper sanitation.

Re:Gluten free fad (2, Informative)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 4 years ago | (#33176994)

Beer is an optional beverage that has not been made an integral ingredient to everything on the store shelf. People do not have to buy beer to fix dinner.

Well, there's still time to fix this!

Re:Gluten free fad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33177472)

I'm German you insensitive clod!

Re:Gluten free fad (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 4 years ago | (#33177274)

I would check out this comment [slashdot.org] regarding the benefits and unique characteristics of Gluten.

Re:Gluten free fad (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175228)

Gluten free diets for (most) people with Celiac are indeed one of the greatest things in life. Before I was diagnosed(which took *forever* due to an atypical presentation and under-awareness of it) I was sick all day, every day, no exceptions... I started being able to attend school again(I almost dropped out of HS because of it) within a month of going gluten free, it was amazing.

As for the "slightly higher prices", in my experience, you really dont have to buy that many specialty ingredients, if you take some time to cook yourself. Wheat pasta can be switched out with corn, rice, quinoa, and other alternate types, flour tortillas for corn, cool ranch doritos instead of nacho cheese doritos... simple stuff. =) Thankfully a lot of manufacturers have been stepping up a bit lately and switching products to machinery that will keep an otherwise safe product safe, chex are an example of this...

You can be blood tested (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175628)

to identify specific markers which then if necessary can be confirmed by samples taken from the digestive tract.

I recently went through a baterial infection which after treatment with Flagyl (sp) cleared the wrong types from my system. Before then two doctors were sure I had celiac but blood tests cleared that off the table. If you test positive to the blood test they take samples from your system to confirm it. For most doctors the blood test is sufficient. In my case while it came back clear I had similar reactions (blood in stool - (its not red btw) to many products with gluten in them. Hence a blood test for Celiac and another other possible physical causes (liver, kidneys, pancreas) . Through isolation and strict diet where I recorded everything for eight weeks that I ate and my reactions I was able to work with my GI doctor to determine the true cause; that being wrong type of bacteria or parasites in my intestines, most likely through contact with fecal matter and improper washing. Think, having dogs and such.

Re:Gluten free fad (1)

perrygeo (927096) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175878)

Why do you need a clinical test to determine how your body reacts to a type of food? Dont most people take note of how food affects them at every meal? When you wake up with a hangover, do you need to go to the doctor to determine if it was the hamburgers or the 12-pack that caused it?

For most of us who follow this "fad" it comes down to this: Take away the gluten, symptoms go away. Add the gluten, symptoms return. Thats all the evidence I need to cut gluten out of my diet. There are no nutrients in wheat that cant be obtained in greater densities from healthier, tastier, whole foods which dont contain potentially gut-destroying anti-nutrients. So really it doesn't matter if you have celiacs or gluten-intolerance or not; there's technically no good reason to include gluten in your diet anyway (except for pizza and beer which are the only things that are occasionally worth the stomach issues in order to enjoy!)

Re:Gluten free fad (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 4 years ago | (#33177330)

If it were only so simple. There are a few problems. The first is that not everyone presents with the typical symptoms of stomach aches and diarrhea. Some are found to have iron-deficiency anemia as the only presenting symptom. This type of anemia can be due to many causes - from celiac, to excessive menstrual bleeding to colon cancer (and many other reasons). You want to be sure before you tell someone they cannot eat Gluten for the rest of their life (including not eating pizza and beer).
The second thing is that many people want a sure diagnosis before making such a big change in their life. I gather you do not have Celiac, so you do not understand how prevalent Gluten is. It's not only in bread et al. Most of the foods in your refrigerator contain Gluten, and even if they don't, the factory where they were made also makes stuff with Gluten, so they cannot be certified Gluten-free. And yes, even tiny amounts of Gluten can cause symptoms.
The last thing is that someone may say "Ok, I think I've got Celiac, so I'll keep a Gluten-free diet except for a beer once in a while - I can manage the stomach aches. It's worth it for me". Well, continued exposure to Gluten can cause lymphoma [wikipedia.org] of the gut. You want a definitive diagnosis before "forcing" him to give up beer. (I know, as a doctor I don't force anyone to do anything).

Re:Gluten free fad (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#33176558)

The naturopaths already have a cheap, quick test for gluten intolerance. A friend of mine described it as a machine that you're hooked up to that "measures your levels." It's really sensitive too - it seems to detect gluten intolerance in everyone it's used on.

Arlington Rap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175002)

You think you're leavin' alive?
Yeah you do, but I don't buy it
I'm gonna eliminate you,
like I did gluten from my diet

Celiac disease is not an allergy (1)

Sanity (1431) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175004)

Rather it is an auto-immune disorder, gluten causes the sufferer's own immune system to attack their small intestine. Aside from the immediate pain (a stomach ache for a day or two after eating even a tiny amount of gluten), it can result in deficiencies in various necessary substances, and can lead to an increased danger of cancer. My wife had stomach aches most of her life, she had grown accustomed to them, thinking they were normal. A few years back (she was 28), on someone's suggestion she got tested for Celiac (first a blood test, then a biopsy of her small intestine). She was positive. She has been avoiding gluten ever since, she can't even have a single crumb of bread without getting sick now. Most people that have Celiac are never diagnosed, and suffer a life of pain and misery as a result, in addition to a shortened lifespan. If you get a lot of stomach aches for reasons you can't determine, you owe it to yourself to get a blood test for Celiac.

Re:Celiac disease is not an allergy (3, Informative)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175034)

You are both right and wrong. It is an autoimmune disease, but it's triggered by an environmental factor. Actually quite a few reactions that are traditionally classified as "allergies" follow the same pattern. Serum sickness is another example. Most medication allergies 9true allergies, not adverse effects) are in the same category.

Re:Celiac disease is not an allergy (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 4 years ago | (#33177366)

I think you got some of the terms confused. Let me sort it out.
Autoimmune disease - a disease in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues. Most autoimmune disease are cause/triggered by a variety of factors including genetic disposition and environmental factors (e.g. exposure to substances and viruses).
Autoimmune disease are classified according to the basic Hypersensitivity reaction [wikipedia.org] underlying them. You can read the Wikipedia article, but to summarize, there are 4 types (the article talks about a 5th, but it is a subtype of no. 2). What we call allergy is type 1 hypersensitivity. Serum sickness is type 3. Celiac disease is type 4.

Re:Celiac disease is not an allergy (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175888)

My daughter was 14 months when she was hospitalised with a severe bacterial infection. She was very sick and doctors initially thought she was suffering from swine flu. After being pumped full of antibiotics and subjected to various tests over a weak she went home. Blood tests suggested she was coeliac and she had a follow on biopsy to confirm it. Doctors suspect she was severely weakened by the disease and this made it easier for the infection to take hold. Her brother also suffered various gastro problems so after she was diagnosed he was also tested and he was confirmed as coeliac too.

As depressing as it was to learn of this, at least they were caught early. The progress my daughter has made in the last 10 months is remarkable. From looking unnourished and sickly she is an active, loud two year old. Her brother is also full of life although he protests about treats like McDonalds etc. They can still eat fresh fruit, meat, fish, veg, dairy etc. with no issue. but they have to eat GF bread, pasta, biscuits etc which can be struggle. To be frank some GF food tastes awful but some brands are a lot more edible than others.

Re:Celiac disease is not an allergy (1)

kanto (1851816) | more than 4 years ago | (#33177130)

Her brother is also full of life although he protests about treats like McDonalds etc.

I'm a bit perplexed at this comment, I thought that McDonalds had a fairly large gluten free menu though I'm not a celiac myself.

Celiac is not an allergy (4, Informative)

beaker8000 (1815376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175056)

First, this research is great. However I want to point out that celiac disease is not an allergy, it is an autoimmune disorder. Calling celiac an allergy makes people think if they have it they will break out into hives or their face will swell if they eat gluten. This contributes to most with celiac not knowing they have the disease. According to U Chicago's Celiac Disease Center, 97% of those with Celiac are undiagnosed (http://www.celiacdisease.net/assets/pdf/CDCFactSheets%20FactsFigures%20v3.pdf). Examples of symptoms of celiac are fatigue, mental disorders, abdominal pain, joint pain... a full list is here: http://www.celiacdisease.net/assets/pdf/CDCFactSheetsSymptoms2.pdf [celiacdisease.net] Also about 1 in 133 americans have celiac, however 41% of adults and 60% of children are asymptomatic.

Re:Celiac is not an allergy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175194)

Many allergies are autoimmune disorders - think about it. Hay fever is your body over-reacting to something in the environment - just that the effect is external, not internal like celiac

Re:Celiac is not an allergy (2, Interesting)

beaker8000 (1815376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175260)

What I'm trying to point out is that if you have celiac and you eat gluten nothing may happen. The symptoms are long term. You have celiac and eat gluten for years your bones lose strength and you break your leg playing soccer. The cause and effect are hard to put together (hence leading to under-diagnosis). This is very different from hay fever where pollen is high and you get a runny nose or whatnot.

Re:Celiac is not an allergy (1)

Lord Maud'Dib (611577) | more than 4 years ago | (#33176910)

Your gastrointestinal tract is still classed as "outside" your body. So it is more similar to the typical allergy than you may realise.

Re:Celiac is not an allergy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175626)

First, this research is great.

However I want to point out that celiac disease is not an allergy, it is an autoimmune disorder. Calling celiac an allergy makes people think if they have it they will break out into hives or their face will swell if they eat gluten. This contributes to most with celiac not knowing they have the disease. According to U Chicago's Celiac Disease Center, 97% of those with Celiac are undiagnosed (http://www.celiacdisease.net/assets/pdf/CDCFactSheets%20FactsFigures%20v3.pdf). Examples of symptoms of celiac are fatigue, mental disorders, abdominal pain, joint pain... a full list is here: http://www.celiacdisease.net/assets/pdf/CDCFactSheetsSymptoms2.pdf [celiacdisease.net]

Also about 1 in 133 americans have celiac, however 41% of adults and 60% of children are asymptomatic.

How is an allergy different from an autoimmune disorder? Skin breaking into hives or face swelling means the foreign substance (allergen) is reacting with skin or face driving its immune system into overdrive, intestines going haywire means the foreign substance (in this case gluten) is reacting with the intestine driving its immune system into overdrive.

If people think allergic response only affects skins or faces then it's their own ignorance -- hay fever affects your nose and eyes more severely than they do your skins or faces, peanut allergy affects your whole immune system (in serious cases enough to cause anaphylactic shock)

Just like there are lots of people with mild allergies that only make their skin/nose slightly itch, mild celiacs suffer only slight discomforts -- maybe not consciously detectable the discomfort can manifest in other vague symptoms including fatigue, mental disorders, abdominal pain, joint pain, or any from the full list from the link, maybe no symptom at all!

Re:Celiac is not an allergy (1)

beaker8000 (1815376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175772)

An allergy is a hypersensitivity to something in the environment. The reaction to an allergy is predictable and rapid. In an autoimmune disorder the body attacks itself. The reaction to celiac is not predictable a priori and not necessarily rapid. Hence the trouble in diagnosing the disease.

What about me? (1)

nih (411096) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175068)

I sell gluten free cookery books you insensitive clod!

People Forget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175206)

People forget peanut allergies and celiac's disease were almost nil until the mid-eighties. What happened in the 80's? Genetically modified food was introduced to the market. Today you can't hardly buy grain/fruit/vegetables that aren't GM and both allergies and celiac's are now considered normal. The fact is it's companies like Monsanto and Cargill that are causing this.

Re:People Forget (3, Insightful)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175300)

Celiac has been around for centuries. Dante Alegheri, poet who composed The Inferno. suffered from it. Peanut allergies have been around as well-it's just that until recently, helicopter parents didn't try and insist that every lunchbag within 5 miles of little Johnny be screened for peanut traces. The increased awareness has fooled you into thinking it's a recent phenomenon-kinda like how fundie churches try to argue that homosexuality didn't exist until the 60's.

I know it's trendy to hate chemicals because they have long scary names, but we value science a little bit more on this website.

Re:People Forget (1)

trytoguess (875793) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175562)

fundie churches try to argue that homosexuality didn't exist until the 60's.

Really? The bible mentions homosexuality meaning it's been around for a while, and yet some folks believe same sex love is a recent phenomena? Do you recall who actually said that? I mean I know dumb Christians, but that's just a bit too dumb.

Re:People Forget (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175590)

This is something I would normally agree with but it is actually over 4 times more common today than just 50 years ago. This is based on comparing the antibodies in blood samples from servicemen in the 1950's compared with today.
    http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2009-rst/5329.html

Re:People Forget (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33176474)

Coeliacs have always been around but, one of the reasons why it is a lot more prevalent now is that, since a couple of centuries ago, the type of wheat that is predominant in our diet contains a lot more gluten than before, which probably caused a sharp increase in the number of people who reacted to it.

If you think about it, it makes sense that this wheat become so popular; the gluten content in the foods seems to be closely related to the texture. Try a gluten-free bread and you'll notice that the texture is a lot more grainy and the bread crumbles into tiny bits far too easily.

Of course, it is way easier to detect now that we have genetic and antibody checks and endoscopies. If you check the list of symptoms, it is almost impossible to differentiate from most almost any other digestive problem. That and the fact that it seems to cause other major illnesses as side effects (schizophrenia! cancer!) probably meant that doctors focused on curing these major issues and not the underlying cause.

Re:People Forget (2, Insightful)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175466)

People forget peanut allergies and celiac's disease were almost nil until the mid-eighties. What happened in the 80's? Genetically modified food was introduced to the market. Today you can't hardly buy grain/fruit/vegetables that aren't GM and both allergies and celiac's are now considered normal. The fact is it's companies like Monsanto and Cargill that are causing this.

Everything above is an outright lie.

(Not to mention bad science post ergo hoc propter hoc is not a valid argument to draw conclusions on, as it is necessarily incomplete and therefore flawed.)

Celiac was not diagnosed because medical universities didn't teach about it, so doctors encountering it were essentially ignorant of the disease.

Re:People Forget (4, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175930)

Utter bullshit. Coeliacs must avoid "ancient" varieties of wheat such as spelt as much as modern varieties. It has nothing to do with GM foods. If anything GM holds the best hope for a cure by producing a strain of wheat whose gluten protein is modified sufficiently that it doesn't trigger an autoimmune reaction.

cool news (1)

phrostie (121428) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175298)

I had never even heard of this until a few weeks ago when i found out a friend had it.

Cool news

My daughter (2, Insightful)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 4 years ago | (#33175346)

was thought to have a sensitivity to gluten and so we cut it out of her diet for a few months. Thankfully gluten did not turn out to be an issue, but it was only after taking the time to read the ingredients list on the things we would normally buy that you find gluten in damn near everything; it's even in soy sauce. It took some effort to avoid.

Re:My daughter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33175708)

my mother has a gluten AND msg "allergy". she pretty much can't eat anything.

Re:My daughter (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#33176594)

Gluten is a major component in several grains. Grain has formed a major portion of most humans' diet since the dawn of agriculture. It's not surprising you find gluten in almost everything.

Re:My daughter (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#33176872)

Same situation for us, although it turns out some of my kids were temporarily gluten intolerant during a certain phase of development.

We found that once you work out a GF menu, it's not really too bad. The main starch becomes rice rather than wheat, and for things like soy sauce people have generally worked out lists of GF brands that you can buy. Overall our menu mostly became more like an east Asian menu, which wasn't the end of the world.

The tough part is when you want one foot in both worlds. For example, there's GF pasta, which I always found gross but my wife liked okay. Or if you want to simulate foods that really require wheat (i.e., cookies), the recipes and ingredients you end up using rarely make something as tasty as their glutenous equivalents. And of course it stinks having to bring special foods for your kid to birthday parties, etc., although that seems to be common enough these days due to food allergies so as not to make you or your kids stand out too much.

Re:My daughter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33176974)

There do exist gluten free soy sauce formulations, but one will probably need to visit a natural foods store to obtain them.

See the Wikipedia page on soy sauces, which explains that many traditional formulations contain wheat (or barley) but some do not.

Science: Researchers Pinpoint Cause of Gluten Alle (1)

TirolTiger (978018) | more than 4 years ago | (#33176256)

Re Science: Researchers Pinpoint Cause of Gluten Allergies : Fortunately I am not a Coeliac (the European spelling) but my wife is. Several contributors have already correctly pointed out that it is NOT an allergy, it is an intolerance to Gluten. Each European Country (or most) have an Organisation, such as the Coeliac Society in England, who exist not only to help Coeliacs, but also to educate the doctors to be able to identify the symptoms so they can make an initial diagnosis. Some fifteen to twenty years ago, not very many doctors had any idea what to look for. One contributor has even sneered at the Biopsies saying they are useless. All the Coeliac organisations in Europe will only accept new members when they have had a positive biopsy, and they all agree the biopsy is the only way to correctly identify whether a person is a Coeliac. The more rigourous a person sticks to their gluten free diet, the greater the adverse reaction if ever they consume, usually unintentionally, any gluten. Several contributors have even tried to say that if you do not observe a gluten free diet, it will not matter, but if Coeliacs are not careful with their diet, they can get acute anaemia which can be fatal if untreated.They can also get a particularly aggressive form of bowel cancer. They can also develop other forms of autoimmune problems and diabetes. However, it is not recommended that people especially children start on a gluten free diet without first consulting their doctor, as if they are not Coeliacs, the effect of the diet can be adverse.One most have sympathy for Coeliacs as it can be a very frustrating diet, my wife in particular hates it when I eat freshly baked bread or Rolls because the smell of them is so good and her memory then makes it worse. However people who must rigidly stick to a Gluten Free AND Lactose free diet are much worse off, as it is much more difficult to find anything suitable for them to eat.

Poorly written news article - link to Abstract (1)

HiChris! (999553) | more than 4 years ago | (#33177068)

The linked to article had little useful info - it didn't even mention who the authors of the paper were or the title of the paper. I had to do some digging around and found it Here's a link to the abstract: http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/2/41/41ra51.abstract [sciencemag.org] The basics are that they isolated 3 peptide fragments that have a very high immuno response - and two were from unexpected proteins
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