TV medic urges us not to ignore the warning signs

Dr Chris Steele and his son Andrew.
Dr Chris Steele and his son Andrew.
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TV doctor Chris Steele has teamed up with his son to raise awareness of a disease.

The This Morning resident GP, who went to Sunderland’s St Aidan’s School, has launched a campaign to highlight coeliac disease.

Dr Steele, a regular on the ITV show, was diagnosed in 2010 with the condition, which is a genetic autoimmune disease and a gluten intolerance.

If it goes undetected it can lead to infertility, greater risk of miscarriage or small bowel cancer.

The GP hopes to raise awareness among close relatives of patients with coeliac disease, as they are 10 times more likely than average to have the condition.

His son Andrew, who is hoping to represent Great Britain in the Olympics in the 400m, took the blood test himself.

He said: “The result was negative but it made me realise the importance to be tested in order to rule things out.”

Dr Steele hopes others will follow his son’s example.

He said: “Many people are afraid and put off finding out if they have something wrong with them, but as someone who wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my 60s, I had already incurred damage to my gut which led to osteoporosis.”

One in every 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease but the prevalence increases to one in 10 for close family members.

There is no cure for the condition and the only treatment is a strict gluten-free diet.

Kate Newman, of Coeliac UK, said that awareness of the disease is improving.

She said: “There’s a huge increase in gluten-free foods in supermarkets and diagnosis levels are increasing.

“But we estimate there are still half a million people in the UK undiagnosed so the work is not done yet.”

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho