“In a widely hailed study http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(13)00702-6/fulltext coordinated by universities and hospitals in Australia, data showed that 55 % of people suffer from celiacs disease – and don’t even know it.
Still more remarkable is that many of those tested had previously been told by gastroenterologists that they did not have celiacs disease, (” NCGS diagnosis can be reached only by excluding CD and WA.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24533607 ) despite the study finding that antibody concentrations still measured at 2 – 7 times the positive value for celiacs disease after 6 weeks on a verified gluten free diet.
‘This is totally shocking’ stated one senior researcher when shown data on the follow-up study that showed no difference from the baseline study. ‘ Given the testing methods and high degree of accuracy used in this study, there can now be no doubt that celiacs disease is not only far more common than previously believed, but may be considered the common state of mankind.’
Wheat gluten industry representatives have not commented on these findings.”
Shudder. Wash my hands. Take a shower and burn my clothes. Try to get the slime off!
The above isn’t true. It is an example of how “journalists” can twist and misconstrue selected data to suit their own nefarious ends.
That’s right, we’re talking about you, Julia Belluz.
For those of you who don’t know, Julia Belluz is the “journalist” that “covers medicine and public health” for Vox.com. Before she started there, she was somehow involved in a blog named “Science-ish.”
“Somehow involved?” Well (rubbing the back of my neck) that’s part of it. Julia’s biography changes depending on who is writing it. What is almost certain is that she didn’t “found” Science-ish (see https://www.mcmasterhealthforum.org/about-us/our-partners/science-ish ) as her current biography http://juliabelluz.com/about states.
So what? Well, Science-ish was a blog that, at least in theory, “held politicians, healthcare leaders and other journalists to account for any ill-informed public statements.” And apparently, Julia did at least write it. So you would hope that Vox, with 150 million users (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vox_Media), was looking for that kind of journalistic integrity and would get it when they hired Julia.
Sadly, that turns out not to be the case.
Again, so what?
Julia Belluz isn’t just another parasite like Michael Specter, feeding on the (inaccurate) material that others produce (they usually call themselves debunkers.) Julia actually produced some original, somewhat informative and unbiased material while she was doing “Science-ish.” See, for example, “Good science vs. bad science” http://www.macleans.ca/authors/julia-belluz/good-science-vs-bad-science/ “Good science vs. bad science” points up some (not the worst) of the mistakes that people often make while first learning how to evaluate scientific reports.
Then she moved to Vox, and started writing articles like these:
“The most Googled diets in every city” http://www.vox.com/2015/11/10/9704544/most-popular-diet where she proves her own ignorance of Celiacs disease and the gluten free diet with statements such as “Celiac disease is a serious, diagnosable autoimmune condition that causes people’s immune systems to act up whenever they eat gluten.” and ” (About 1 percent of Americans have celiac disease.)”
Then she moved on to something even worse. Flat unfounded assumptions about the gluten free diet: “But many more people are surely searching for the diet in order to lose weight. And there’s actually no good evidence that gluten-free eating helps.”
That’s really quaint. Julia says Celiac disease causes people’s immune system to “act up” when they eat gluten. Here’s PART of the real story: “Celiac disease is a systemic autoimmune disease that can be associated with gastrointestinal findings (diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain, anorexia, lactose intolerance, abdominal distention, and irritability) and/or highly variable non-gastrointestinal findings (iron deficiency anemia, dermatitis herpetiformis, chronic fatigue, joint pain/inflammation, migraines, depression, attention-deficit disorder, epilepsy, osteoporosis/osteopenia, infertility and/or recurrent fetal loss, (remember, 70% of Celiacs that are diagnosed with Celiacs Disease are female,) vitamin deficiencies, short stature, failure to thrive, delayed puberty, dental enamel defects, and autoimmune disorders). Classic celiac disease, characterized by mild to severe gastrointestinal symptoms, is less common than non-classic celiac disease, characterized by absence of gastrointestinal symptoms.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1727/
Here’s another (and very important) PART: ” Celiac disease (CD) is an immune-mediated enteropathic condition triggered in genetically susceptible individuals by the ingestion of gluten.” http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=215079
That’s a little more than your immune system “acting up.”
The very important part is important because of what the study actually says. Julia says “(About 1 percent of Americans have celiac disease.)”
Study says: “The serologic (antibodies to gluten) criteria for the diagnosis of CD were met in 27 of 2845 not-at-risk adults (1:105) So, yes, that is 1%.
But notice that little caveat. NOT-AT-RISK.
NOT “1% of the population.” NOT “1% of people.” And most certainly NOT “1% of Americans,” as Julia would have you believe.
For the at-risk population (those that have either the HLA DQ2 or HLA DQ8 gene – about 35% of the Caucasian population of the United States https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HLA-DQ ) the percentage is much higher.
How much higher? Gee, no one seems to know. If you are interested, check out this study (and keep in mind that, like most studies, it is talking about “acute” or “symptomatic” CD, not subclinical CD, which is MUCH more common.) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3872820/
Or this study (again) which puts the minimum number of serologic positive at over 4.5% http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=215079 in the at-risk population.
Given that the Gluten Free Diet is not and never has been a weight loss diet (in fact, it is and always has been a prescription, written – in most countries-by a physician for the treatment of Celiacs Disease and certain other diseases) why is Julia Belluz so sure that people are trying to find out about it to lose weight? Consider these alternatives:
FREEDOM OF CHOICE: ’nuff said.
FRIENDS OF CELIACS: Yes, Celiacs do have friends, and sometimes they even invite us to dinner. Good friends want to know about Gluten Free Diets so they don’t make us sick. (And by the way, Julia, if you are reading this, keep in mind that the kind of sick a glutenated Celiac often experiences includes intense and prolonged pain, as well as organ damage, possibly life threatening diarrhea – in lay terms, you can literally shit yourself to death – and unemployment due to missed work if you are not properly diagnosed.)
NEW REGULATIONS FOR GLUTEN FREE FOOD LABELING: Manufacturers and restaurants now actually have to KNOW something about gluten free food before they can label it Gluten Free.
SUB-CLINICAL CD IS ALMOST NEVER DIAGNOSED, BUT MORE PEOPLE ARE AWARE OF IT: Here’s an eye opener-“They found that 35% of patients in whom celiac disease was diagnosed at age 20 years or older, including many with clinically silent celiac disease, had associated autoimmune disorders, compared with only 5% who were diagnosed and properly treated with a gluten-free diet since infancy (age < 2 years). This indicates that, by unknown mechanisms, long-term undiagnosed and untreated celiac disease predisposes to autoimmunity to other organs.” http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(00)59181-1/fulltext#s0065
Here’s another to go with it-“Furthermore, we previously showed that most false-positive cases with initially morphologically normal villi (Marsh I–II) eventually will develop mucosal atrophy if they continue on gluten. Moreover, a randomized trial showed that these EmA-positive subjects already benefit from a GFD before villous atrophy (the end stage of the histologic damage) develops. http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(14)00609-X/fulltext
As a final note, I would point out to Julia that I have been serving Gluten Free food (some of which is pictured in this post) to the general public for 5 years now. In that time, NO CUSTOMER HAS EVER told me that they are choosing gluten free to try to lose weight.