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Wheat Consumption May Contribute to Diabetes

Overreaction in gut noted in study of people with type 1 version of disease

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 26 (HealthDay News) -- An abnormal immune response to wheat proteins may contribute to type 1 diabetes, Canadian researchers say.

Their study of 42 people with type 1 diabetes found that nearly half had immune system T-cells that overreacted to wheat. The researchers also identified genes associated with this abnormal immune response.

"The immune system has to find the perfect balance to defend the body against foreign invaders without hurting itself or overreacting to the environment, and this can be particularly challenging in the gut, where there is an abundance of food and bacteria," study author Dr. Fraser Scott, a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa, said in a hospital news release.

"Our research suggests that people with certain genes may be more likely to develop an overreaction to wheat and possibly other foods in the gut, and this may tip the balance with the immune system and make the body more likely to develop other immune problems, such as type 1 diabetes," he explained.

The study appears in the August issue of Diabetes.

"These observations add to the accumulating evidence that the gut is an active player in the diabetes disease process," Dr. Mikael Knip of Finland wrote in an accompanying editorial.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about diabetes.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, news release, Aug. 20, 2009

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