February 22, 2010

Gluten Sensitivity and Liver Disease



More than 200 scientific studies have linked gluten sensitivity to liver disease.  In this review, the following liver conditions were linked to gluten intolerance:

  1. Reactive hepatitis ( coeliac hepatitis)
  2. Autoimmune liver disorders including - Autoimmune hepatitis, Autoimmune overlap syndrome,  Autoimmune (sclerosing) cholangitis, and Primary biliary cirrhosis
  3. Non alcoholic fatty liver disease
  4. Acute liver failure
  5. Cryptogenic cirrhosis
  6. Regenerative nodular hyperplasia
  7. Hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer)

a wide spectrum of liver injuries in children and adults may be related to CD and in particular: (1) a mild parenchymal damage characterised by absence of any clinical sign or symptom suggesting a chronic liver disease and by non-specific histological changes reversible on a gluten-free diet; (2) a chronic inflammatory liver injury of autoimmune mechanism, including autoimmune hepatitis, primary sclerosing cholangitis and primary biliary cirrhosis, that may lead to fibrosis and cirrhosis, generally unaffected by gluten withdrawal and necessitating an immunosuppressive treatment; (3) a severe liver failure potentially treatable by a gluten-free diet. Such different types of liver injuries may represent a spectrum of a same disorder where individual factors, such as genetic predisposition, precocity and duration of exposure to gluten may influence the reversibility of liver damage.”


Indian J Pediatr 2006; 73 (9) : 809-811.

Gluten Free Society’s Stance:

Liver disease can be fatal.  It has been well established that viral infection and alcohol can both damage the liver.  However; there are many who suffer with liver disease unrelated to either.  The cause for many of these conditions is unknown.

  • 500,000 gall bladder surgeries are performed in the U.S. annually.  Up to 40% of these surgeries have complications afterwards.
  • Non alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) disease affects as many as 1/3 or U.S. adults.

The big question is why?  What is causing damage to the liver and gallbladder in so many individuals.  Is the answer surgery?  If gluten intolerance can cause all of the above conditions, shouldn’t we perform routine genetic screening for gluten sensitivity in those with liver disease of unknown origin before taking out their organs?

Now consider that liver disease can cause high cholesterol… Cholesterol medications can cause liver disease…Liver disease contributes to blood sugar abnormalities…contributes to fatigue…contributes to weight gain…contributes to fatty liver…

Gluten intolerance linked to liver disease

We can go on and on and on.  The point is, gluten intolerance can cause liver problems.  Most liver disease in the U.S. has no known cause.  It makes sense to investigate gluten as a causative factor.

Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior

Dr. Peter Osborne
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