Celiac.com 11/07/2002 - The results of a recent study conducted by researchers in Sweden indicate that the overall cancer risk of people with celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis is higher than that of the normal population, but lower than other studies have reported. Further, the overall risk is lower in children and higher in adults, and the risk "declined with time and eventually reached unity," presumably because most of the subjects followed a gluten-free diet. Here is the Medline abstract for the study:

Gastroenterology 2002 Nov;123(5):1428-1435 Links

Askling J, Linet M, Gridley G, Halstensen TS, Ekstrom K, Ekbom A.

Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institute/Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden; Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland; Institute of Oral Biology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway; and the Department of Medical Epidemiology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Studies of cancer risk in celiac disease (CD) or dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) indicate increased risks for malignant lymphoma and occasionally other neoplasms, but are characterized by small numbers, lack of systematic cancer assessment, and subjects identified from referral institutions.

METHODS: By using Swedish population-based inpatient and cancer registry data, we followed-up 12,000 subjects with celiac disease or DH, and evaluated cancer incidence by using standardized incidence ratios (SIR).

RESULTS: Adults (but not children and adolescents) with celiac disease had an elevated overall risk for cancer (SIR = 1.3) that declined with time and eventually reached unity. Elevated risks were found for malignant lymphomas, small-intestinal, oropharyngeal, esophageal, large intestinal, hepatobiliary, and pancreatic carcinomas. The excess occurrence of malignant lymphomas was confined to adults, decreased with time of follow-up evaluation, and decreased over successive calendar periods. Decreased risks were found for breast cancer. Subjects with DH had a slightly increased overall cancer risk (SIR = 1.2) owing to excesses of malignant lymphoma and leukemia, but no increases of gastrointestinal carcinomas.

CONCLUSIONS: Albeit increased, the relative risks for lymphomas and gastrointestinal cancers in this study are lower (and declining) than in most previous reports. The overall cancer risk is only moderately increased, and non-elevated during childhood and adolescence.

PMID: 12404215 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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