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Gluten intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in three large prospective cohort studies of US men and women – published online 03/08/2018

by Geng Zong, Benjamin Lebwohl, Frank B. Hu, Laura Sampson, Lauren W. Dougherty, Walter C. Willett, Andrew T. Chan, Qi Sun

Avoidance of gluten intake is crucial for the management of coeliac disease, in which gluten triggers an autoimmune response. However, adoption of a gluten-free diet among people without apparent gluten-related disorders in the USA and many other countries has become increasingly popular, with the belief that eating a gluten-free diet is associated with health benefits. Despite this perception, evidence is lacking to support or refute the belief that avoidance of gluten is associated with cardiometabolic health benefits in populations without coeliac disease. To fill this knowledge gap, in this issue, Zong, Lebwohl et al (https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-018-4697-9) report findings from a large-scale analysis in three long-running cohorts of US men and women. They found an inverse association between gluten intake and risk of type 2 diabetes. This association was independent of established diabetes risk factors and appeared to be stronger when added bran intake was also higher. These results suggest that gluten intake is unlikely to exert adverse effects on diabetes risk and that the avoidance of gluten intake, often at the price of reducing fibre intake, should not be recommended for diabetes prevention.

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