Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which dietary gluten, causes damage to the small intestine, which keeps nutrients from being properly absorbed. Even small amounts of gluten in foods such as wheat, rye, barley, and other products, can lead to serious health problems, ranging from gastrointestinal distress and infertility to an increased risk of osteoporosis and certain cancers, particularly colon cancer.
Nearly 20 million Americans experience dire health problems from eating foods that contain gluten. Congress told FDA to define the term “gluten-free” for food manufacturers by 2008. Why are they still “studying the matter”? A new Action Alert!
As we reported recently, gluten-related conditions greatly increase the risk for diabetes. A recent large study published 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.
More than 2.3 million people in the US have celiac disease, or about 1 in 133 people; some estimates place the total as high as 3 million Americans—and growing.
Many more Americans—as many as 30–40% of the US population, according to the research of a leading US laboratory working in the field—have gluten sensitivity (also called Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance), which means that they, too, are sickened by the protein. It is also sometimes referred to as “silent” celiac disease, as the disease may remain latent for twenty years or more before becoming full-blown celiac disease if gluten consumption is continued.
Dr. Mark Hyman reports that a review paper in The New England Journal of Medicine listed 55 “diseases” that can be caused by eating gluten. These include osteoporosis, irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease, anemia, cancer, fatigue, canker sores, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and almost all other autoimmune diseases. Gluten is also linked to many psychiatric and neurological diseases, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, dementia, migraines, epilepsy, and neuropathy (nerve damage). It has also been linked to autism.
Two important factors that may create gluten sensitivity are a diet containing too much gluten, and increased permeability of the small intestinal lining, also called leaky gut syndrome—which, as we reported last week, may develop because genetically engineered food genes are transferring to our own genes.
In 2004, Congress gave the FDA until 2008 to establish a uniform definition for companies that want to label their products as gluten-free. But that deadline came and went three years ago.
The Washington Post reports that the FDA has spent years calling on experts to have open-forum debates and town hall meetings—all of whom have been saying the same things about the dangers of gluten and what “gluten-free” should mean. As Alessio Fasano, medical director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said recently, “I really don’t understand why it’s lingering up in the air when it really should be a no-brainer.”
The FDA has said the issue is complicated, requiring analyses of various technical issues, including how well manufacturers and regulators can reliably test for the presence of gluten and whether oats are a source of gluten (not usually, but they can be—see Note below).
An FDA spokesperson recently told the Washington Post that “efforts are now underway” to publish another document in the Federal Register and reopen the matter to another round of public comments. The FDA will then “consider the comments,” the findings of a safety assessment and “other factors” to develop a final rule.
In other words, the agency is deliberately dragging its feet.
Even the House Appropriations Committee, which is considering FDA funding, noted the agency’s failure to meet its deadline: “Public Law 108–282 required a final rule…not later than August 2008….The Committee instructs FDA to issue a final rule before December 31, 2011.”
Three years of flouting the law, and all FDA gets is a slap on the wrist.
Read the rest of this extensive article at: http://www.anh-usa.org/gluten-sensitivity-why-is-fda-dragging-its-feet/
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