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Is gluten dangerous?

Dr. Mark Hyman, MD
Family Medicine
Eating a nice dark, crunchy slice of whole wheat bread -- how could that be bad for you? Well, bread contains gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and kamut. It is hidden in pizza, pasta, bread, wraps, rolls, and most processed foods. A large Swedish study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people with diagnosed, undiagnosed, and "latent" celiac disease or gluten sensitivity had a higher risk of death, mostly from heart disease and cancer.

This study looked at almost 30,000 patients from 1969 to 2008 and examined deaths in three groups: those with full-blown celiac disease, those with inflammation of their intestine but not full-blown celiac disease, and those with latent celiac disease or gluten sensitivity (elevated gluten antibodies but negative intestinal biopsy).

The findings were dramatic. There was a 39 percent increased risk of death in those with celiac disease, 72 percent increased risk in those with gut inflammation related to gluten, and 35 percent increased risk in those with gluten sensitivity but no celiac disease.

This is ground-breaking research that proves you don't have to have full-blown celiac disease with a positive intestinal biopsy to have serious health problems and complications -- even death -- from eating gluten.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.