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Wheat Intolerance may Lead to Schizophrenia

Reported February 23, 2004

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A history of gluten intolerance, a hereditary disease that affects thousands of Americans, appears to be a risk factor for schizophrenia, according to a new study.

Danish researchers identified nearly 8,000 people over age 15 who were admitted to a Danish psychiatric unit with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. They examined known risk factors such as socioeconomic class, urban residence, and family history of schizophrenia, as well as untested risk factors such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Based on prior scientific literature, the researchers also included celiac disease -- a chronic hereditary intestinal disorder that is characterized by an inability to absorb gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats.

For this study, only celiac disease occurring before onset of schizophrenia was considered. Most people, however, live with celiac disease for years without getting sick. The tendency for it is inherited from parents, and usually something like severe stress, physical injury, infection, childbirth, or surgery “trigger” the disease. It usually affects Caucasians of Northern European descent.

The researchers say this study shows a history of celiac disease is a risk factor for schizophrenia. They say an important question to consider is the degree to which removal of gluten from the diet will alleviate symptoms in the small proportion of people with schizophrenia who screen positively for celiac disease but do not show its classical symptoms.

Celiac disease has already been shown to cause other long-term health problems such as anemia and osteoporosis. Since gluten damages the intestines, the damage also keeps the body from absorbing nutrients, like vitamins, calcium, protein and fat from food.

SOURCE: British Medical Journal, 2004;328:438-439

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.naturallyherbs.com/alerts.shtml.


 

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