Celiac.com 08/09/2004 – In a study designed to quantify the malignancy and mortality risks associated with celiac disease, British researchers examined 4,732 celiac disease patients and compared them to 23,620 matched controls. The researchers found that 134 (2.8%) of those with celiac disease had at least one malignancy, and 237 (5.0%) had died. In the general population, the overall hazard ratios were as follows: for any malignancy 1.29 (95% confidence interval 1.06 to 1.55), for mortality 1.31 (1.13 to 1.51), for gastrointestinal cancer 1.85 (1.22 to 2.81), for breast cancer 0.35 (0.17 to 0.72), for lung cancer 0.34 (0.13 to 0.95), and for lymphoproliferative disease 4.80 (2.71 to 8.50).
The researchers conclude that there is a modest increase in the rates of malignancy and mortality during the first year following a diagnosis of celiac disease. After one year, however, most of that increase quickly diminishes to a level that is only slightly higher than that of the normal population, presumably due to the effects of a gluten-free diet. In an unexpected finding the researchers also found a significant reduction in incidence of breast cancer in those with celiac disease, which warrants further study, as it could provide insight into the cause of the disease.