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Sen. Giessel SCR 16 – Celiac Disease Awareness Month – Passes Senate Unanimously


(Juneau) – A resolution to proclaim May 2012 as Celiac Disease Awareness Month, SCR 16, was approved unanimously by the State Senate today.

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 disorder, 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 and other health problems 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 and cosmetics, 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 that my colleagues in the Senate have passed this resolution unanimously,” 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, most of them unaware of what’s causing their symptoms, and who could be helped by a heightened awareness of it.”

To watch Sen. Giessel’s statement on the Senate floor, please go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GemW-72q5Jw&feature=youtu.be

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

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