New Study Sheds Light on GI Cancer – Celiac Disease Link

This image has NOTHING to do with this post. Yawning puppies just felt right for a Monday.

If you’ve been following the news about undiagnosed celiac disease, then you’ve read about all the other medical problems that celiacs are at risk for. There’s lots of them: diabetes, osteoporosis, depression, etc. (you can read more at the National Foundation for Celiac Disease’s website).

A handful of small studies have shown a link between gastrointestinal cancers and celiac disease, but up until recently there was no large-scale study to verify the results. A study recently published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology fixes this, and provides a bit of reassurance to us all.

The study, led by Peter Elfström of Sweden’s Karolinska University Hospital, analyzed the risk of GI cancers in several biopsied cohorts:

  • Almost 29,000 patients with celiac disease, villous atrophy and a Marsh score of 3
  • Almost 13,000 patients with intestinal inflammation and a Marsh score of 1 or 2
  • 3,705 patients with latent celiac disease (positive blood tests but normal biopsies)

The data was matched up to members of the general population by age and sex.

The results? To pull a few quotes from the study:

Although celiac disease, inflammation, and latent disease all increase risk for GI cancers in the first year after diagnosis, there is no increase in risk thereafter.

In the first year after diagnosis and initial biopsy, celiac disease was associated with 5.95-fold increase in risk of incident GI cancer…After the first year, patients were at no significant increase in risk for GI cancers.

If you’d like to read more, check out the blog of the AGA Journals or this post on by Jefferson Adams.

In general, this study is good news for us all — and yet another reason to get tested and stick to the gluten-free diet!


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