"There are many groups and organizations working to promote Celiac Disease awareness, and I applaud all their efforts," Inhofe said. "This terrible disease impacts an estimated 2.2 million Americans and thousands of Oklahomans, and many of these individuals are currently undiagnosed. Awareness can go a long way toward diagnosing and treating the millions of suffers of celiac disease both in my home state of Oklahoma and across the nation."
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder and a malabsorption disease that creates an intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, oats and barley, as well as some medicines and vitamins. When exposed to gluten, the villi of the small intestine are damaged, interfering with the absorption of nutrients. Other problems can occur as a result of damage to the small intestine, including malnutrition, anemia, lymphoma and adenocarcinoma, osteoporosis, miscarriage and congenital malformation, and short stature.
Celiac disease is also linked other autoimmune disorders such as thyroid disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, type 1 diabetes, liver disease, collagen vascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren's syndrome.