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Women With Celiac Disease At Lower Risk for Hormone-Related Cancers
Gryphon Myers recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in interdisciplinary studies, research emphasis in art, society and technology. He is a lifelong vegetarian, an organic, local and GMO-free food enthusiast and a high fructose corn syrup abstainer. He currently lives in Northern California. He also writes about and designs video games at Homunkulus.View all articles by Gryphon Myers
Celiac.com 09/24/2012 - With all the problems that go along with celiac disease, it can be hard to see any benefits to having the disease. However, it would seem that such benefits do exist: a recent study in Sweden shows that women suffering from celiac disease are actually at a decreased risk of developing breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer.
Data was collected from 28 Swedish pathology departments, identifying 17,852 biopsy-diagnosed women diagnosed with celiac disease between the years of 1969 and 2007. Women in the celiac group were age-matched and compared with a control group of 88,400 women.
Risk of breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer were all estimated using the Cox regression model in both groups. Results showed an inverse relationship between celiac disease and all three forms of cancer. With breast cancer rates, women with celiac disease had a hazard ratio of 0.89 (meaning for every 100 women in the control group, only 89 in the celiac disease group developed breast cancer). Women with celiac disease also had a hazard ratio of 0.89 for ovarian cancer. For endometrial cancer, the decreased risk was even more pronounced with a hazard ratio of 0.6. All calculations carried a confidence interval of 95%.
These numbers became even more pronounced after omitting the first year of followup after diagnosis (presumably the gluten-free diet 'adjustment period'). Breast cancer's hazard ratio fell to 0.82, ovarian cancer's hazard ratio fell to .72 and endometrial cancer's hazard ratio fell to 0.58.
The study suggests that this negative correlation could be a result of shared risk factors or early menopause associated with celiac disease. Looking at the numbers though, particularly the 'adjustment period' drop off, one has to wonder if the gluten-free diet has some part to play in this as well.
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