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Sen. Giessel SCR 16 – Celiac Disease Awareness Month – Passes Senate State Affairs Committee


(Juneau) – Legislation to proclaim May 2012 as Celiac Disease Awareness Month, SCR 16, was approved by the Senate State Affairs committee today. The resolution will now be referred to the Rules committee for calendaring on the Senate floor.

Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, an advanced nurse practitioner, sponsored SCR 16 to bring greater public awareness to a disease that is much more common than many realize, and often goes undiagnosed.

“Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease, popularly but incorrectly seen as an allergy to gluten, which results in a variety of digestive symptoms,” Sen. Giessel said. “It is frequently misdiagnosed, based on its symptoms, and can lead to malnutrition in a person who is suffering from it.”

Gluten, mostly from grains like wheat, barley and rye, is used in hundreds of types of food products, often in processed forms that are not obvious.

Celiac disease is frequently associated with other diseases, such as lupus, Addison’s disease, liver disease, and Down’s syndrome, among others. If left undiagnosed and untreated, celiac disease can increase the risk of cardiovascular damage, other autoimmune diseases, diabetes, malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, loss of calcium, osteoporosis, lactose intolerance, infertility, intestinal lymphomas and other gastrointestinal cancers, depression, and neurological manifestations.

“I appreciate the State Affairs Committee taking quick action on SCR 16.” Sen. Giessel said. “The goal is to help Alaskans by increasing public awareness of this under-diagnosed disease. Extrapolating from national estimates, there are probably 5,000 Alaskans who could have celiac disease and could be helped by a heightened awareness of it.”

To read SCR 16, please go here: http://www.legis.state.ak.us/PDF/27/Bills/SCR016A.PDF

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