Will Gluten Go the Way of the Cigarette?

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Gluten-free is a big fad! It will soon be replaced by some other diet craze!

Those who call it a fad simply don’t understand what’s going on. This isn’t a chain reaction of people enthusiastically conforming to some fleeting behavioral change. It’s more of a trend based on the mounting realization that wheat is causing more damage to our human bodies than was previously understood.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the growing awareness of celiac and non-celiac gluten-intolerance might be actually only be the beginning of a seismic shift away from eating wheat. It was only six years ago that even the most experienced and knowledgeable medical professionals (Peter Green, M.D. included), refused to recommend a gluten-free diet to suffering patients who failed to test positive for celiac on an endocospy. But celiac support groups and many of us who closely interacted with those in the community and their families saw something much different. Mothers who came to my classes might point to “only” one child with celiac, but as we discussed common symptoms, they would, with a budding comprehension, admit to a variety of other symptoms in the family: grandma had died of stomach cancer, aunt has thyroid disease and arthritis, sister has Crohn’s disease, brother has headaches and allergies, older sister has “fuzzy” brain, a cousin has autism. Perhaps those of us diagnosed with celiac are actually the lucky ones because it forced us to stop eating something that is really a danger to all of our bodies – wheat.

Several years ago, I began to research the rise of tobacco consumption, cigarette smoking and lung cancer because I thought it might provide a useful frame of reference for the huge increase in consumption of wheat and the rise of gluten-intolerance. I tracked the rise of cigarette smoking and lung cancer and then, I tracked the eventual realization of the harm it was doing (through published medical studies) and the subsequent push to curtail tobacco use (which the tobacco industry is still trying to fight). I won’t go into every detail here, but suffice it to say that it took more than fifty years for the nudging understanding of the unhealthy effects of cigarette smoke to take hold and grow into smoking bans and warning labels. Interestingly, even the United States military has gone from giving cigarettes to soldiers in their war-time rations during the 1900’s, to considering a tobacco-free military now. (1)  


A very brief time line of the push to curtail smoking:

1930:  Statistical correlation between cancer and smoking, Cologne, Germany
1938:  Dr. Raymond Pearl (Johns Hopkins University) reports smokers do not live as long as non-smokers
1944:  American Cancer Society warns of possible ill effects of smoking
1950: Journal of American Medical Association publishes Morton Levin’s study definitively linking smoking to lung cancer
1952:  Reader’s Digest publishes “Cancer by the Carton” detailing dangers of smoking
1964:  Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health reports causal relationship between cigarette smoking and lung cancer
1965:  Congress passes Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act requiring surgeon general’s warning on all cigarette packaging
1971:  All broadcast advertising of cigarettes banned
1990:  Smoking banned on all interstate buses and domestic airline flights lasting six hours or less
1994:  First of 22 state lawsuits filed against tobacco companies to recoup millions of dollars from to pay for smokers’ medical bills
1995:  FDA begins to regulate tobacco advertising and sales
2002: CDC estimates smoking health and productivity costs reach $150 billion a year
2006:  Surgeon General releases The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke. Report says secondhand smoke in any form at any level is harmful to health.
2010:  Surgeon General releases 30th Surgeon General’s report on tobacco entitled, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease.
2011:  FDA reveals new graphic warning labels set to appear on cigarette packs starting in 2012


How soon will it be before we start to see warning labels on packages of Poppin’ Fresh Dough and Oreos? 

Eating Wheat Can Cause Serious Risks to Your Health

I think it is only a matter of time, and a matter of how much money the lobbyists throw at Congress to keep the warnings at bay. In the mean time, I intend to keep watch.

(1) Report Urges Timeline for Tobacco-free Military, Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service, Washington, July 10, 2009, http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=55085

Learn more about second hand smoke at the EPA website. Get help to stop smoking here.

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7 thoughts on “Will Gluten Go the Way of the Cigarette?”

  1. Great article! I’m in the baby stages of blogging and just recently blogged about that very subject myself. Although, I confess, I did call it a trend….which, I think, for some people it is. They will move onto a new way eating or dieting when the next big fad comes along. However, I do hope that this isn’t just a passing fancy because, for some people, gluten free eating is a life long commitment!

    I’m encouraged by the increasing awareness of celiac disease and the negative effects of gluten on the body. If this increased awareness actually brings about “the beginning of a seismic shift away from eating wheat”, that would be a huge step in the right direction for people who are gluten intolerant and everyone in general.

    Thanks for the insightful comparison to cigarette smoking. I’m liking the Surgeon General’s Warning too!

    1. hi!
      I just read through your blog (wordymom.com) and looked up the sensorineural hearing loss issue your family is dealing with and found some VERY interesting link to celiac disease that I didn’t even know existed.

      Sensorineural hearing loss and celiac disease: A coincidental finding in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology

      Sensorineural hearing loss in pediatric celiac patients in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology

      Something new to add to my toolbox! Thank you so much for writing. Please stay in touch!

      very best,

      1. Thanks for the links to those articles. I had come across the first one before but not the second one that specifically focused on pediatric CD patients. That is very interesting!

        By the way, I tried your Vanilla Cupcake recipe (from the Food Philosopher). I actually doubled it and made two 10″ cakes to make a layer cake. I also substituted grapeseed oil for the canola. It was great! I’ve been looking for a good vanilla cake recipe! Thanks so much. I would like to put that on my site with a link back to yours if that’s okay.


        1. hi!
          So glad you like the cake (and the post). The two layer version of the vanilla cake you mention is actually in my first book Gluten-Free Baking Classics (along with many others). And yes, you can put it on your site with the link. Linking is good. Thank you for that. Not all the people who site my work online link back to my website or books, which isn’t really as polite.

          Very best,

  2. I love your recipes–I have your zucchini bread in my oven as we speak, and the house smells INSANELY good!!

    Fascinating that you see the link between tobacco/wheat usage and subsequent health effects.

    I’ll throw one more wrench into the works: vaccines.

    My celiac was triggered by a set of vaccines I received as an adult.

    If you look at the vastly increasing usage of vaccines, you can see a corresponding rise in autoimmune disorders (like celiac) and other health issues, with a huge jump in diagnoses following years where additional vaccines were added.

    According to http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/downloads/parent-ver-sch-0-6yrs.pdf children today get 35 vaccines by the time they start kindergarten.

    Rates of food allergies/intolerances, asthma, neurological issues, seizure disorders, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis are at an all-time high.

    And there are new studies showing links with these disorders to vaccine ingredients such as aluminum (in most vaccines) and mercury (still in the flu shot as thimerosal, plus it’s still in ADULT vaccines).

    For some of us, the issue goes beyond what we put in our mouths. It includes what we allow to be injected into our bodies.

    Oh–and the science that supposedly shows that vaccines are safe? We call it “tobacco science.” It’s all funded by the pharmaceutical industry. They also direct the studies, interpret the studies, and market those studies

    1. hey you!!!
      Good to know you are still baking up a storm. As the lucky recipient of a zucchini the size of a wheelbarrow that was proudly grown by friends across the street, I will soon be joining you in making that bread!

      And yes, I share your fear of vaccines. I’m always worried anytime I need to make a decision about having one of my boys (or me!) vaccinated. When my oldest son was two years old, he got what was his first -and last- Hepatitis B vaccine because he became temporarily paralyzed for about 7 horrifying hours soon after having the shot. The doctors refused to blame the vaccine- but I knew. So who knows what else they can do. Vaccines, the chemicals in the air we breath and food we eat all assault our bodies. I also think gluten figures in somewhere- even for those who don’t have celiac- because it causes so much inflammation in our bodies.

      But we at least we have some good GF zucchini bread to share while we dwell on the dangers around us. Hope you are having a good summer.

      very best,

  3. Pingback: 21 Delicious Ways to Eat Gluten-Free on a Budget | Money Talks News

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