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Celiac disease is actually a common condition, but we do not realize this because so many people who have it have not been diagnosed. Celiac disease is a genetic disease; in other words, you have to have the “right” genes to develop it. Celiac disease rates vary greatly from country to country.

In the United States, about one in every 133 people has celiac disease, which means about 2.4 million people have the condition. However, more than 2 million of these have not yet been diagnosed, so they do not know they have the condition and therefore need to follow a gluten-free diet.

People of Caucasian origin appear to be at much higher risk of developing the condition than those of African, Hispanic, or Asian origin.

For example, a large study in the United States found that 1% of non-Hispanic whites had celiac disease, compared to 0.2% of non-Hispanic blacks and 0.3% of Hispanics.

Another study found very high rates of celiac disease, around 3%, among people of South Indian (Punjab) ancestry and low rates among those of East Asian, South Indian and Hispanic ancestry.

Surprisingly, the same study found similar rates of celiac disease in men and women. Previous studies have suggested that celiac disease is more common in women.

Celiac disease is considered rare in countries where the majority of white people are non-Hispanic, although researchers also believe its incidence is increasing worldwide.

If you want to find out the myths about celiac disease, check out our article on this topic: 12 myths about celiac disease.

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