By Emily

Usually when a post about a malady other than celiac disease / gluten intolerance comes out on the Triumph Dining blog, it’s bad news. This time, though, there is some happy information to share with any of you who are (or who know and love) any women with celiac disease.

A comprehensive study published in the International Journal of Cancer in August took a careful look at data from almost 18,000 women diagnosed with celiac disease between 1969 and 2007 in Sweden. These women’s risk for hormone-related cancers (breast, endometrial, and ovarian) was analyzed in contrast with that of more than 88,000 women of comparable age.

Shockingly, the women diagnosed with celiac disease had a lower risk for all three types of cancer. When the first year post-diagnosis — a year of learning how to properly avoid gluten — was excluded from the data the relationship was strengthened.

The researchers who published the study cited two potential explanations: shared risk factors and early menopause. Studies in the past have indicated that celiac disease, when left untreated, does increase the likelihood of early menopause, lower estrogen, infertility, and general hormone disruption. The current study’s abstract does not mention anything about the time-to-diagnosis of the women in question.

The analysis of the study poses a question that we won’t be able to answer any time soon: does the gluten-free diet as a whole contribute to lower rates of hormonal cancers for women, regardless of whether or not they have celiac disease? Do these correlations extend to women who have been formally diagnosed with a non-celiac gluten sensitivity? Without a formal study it’s tough-to-impossible to say. In the meantime, it’s still good news for those of us with celiac disease and ovaries.

For more information on diseases related to celiac disease, have a look at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness’ overview online.