Type 1 diabetes develops in 5 to 10 percent of all people with celiac disease, which affects approximately 1 in 250 Americans.
Also known as gluten intolerance, celiac disease is a genetic disorder where the body improperly absorbs fat. It occurs most commonly in people of African, European and Asian descent. Celiac disease can occur at any age, and it is estimated that one in 10 people who have celiac disease are not diagnosed. Therefore, there could be a large number of people with type 1 diabetes who have celiac disease. Untreated celiac disease will increase a person’s risk of intestinal cancer by 40 to 100 times that of the normal population.
Because of a broad range of symptoms, celiac disease can be difficult to diagnose. Symptoms include mild weakness, bone pain, chronic diarrhea and abdominal bloating. According to the Celiac Support Page Web site (celiac.com), the only treatment for celiac disease is “strict adherence to a 100 percent gluten-free diet for life.” Gluten is found in products containing wheat, rye and barley, or any of their derivatives.