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    Women With Celiac Disease At Lower Risk for Hormone-Related Cancers


    Gryphon Myers
    Image Caption: Photo: CC--Paul Falardeau

    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.


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    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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    Strangely we have only had one case of breast cancer or any other type of cancer in many generations of many women. I have wondered about this lately. My mother has 6 sisters and early or sudden menopause is common here. This may explain it.

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    Guest Paul Farley

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    It's really neat that the gluten-free diet possibly has a beneficial effect on cancer rates. Great news! Thanks for the article.

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    Guest GlutenFreeDee

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    I love this positive info and wondered about the early menopause. I went through a quick change at 42. Done by 43.

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    Guest Guadalupe

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    Isn't 89 out of 100 a LOT... ? Not sure I understand. Can you explain those ratios again?

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    I really do believe the celiac diet has huge health benefits. I often share my thoughts with people that visit our dedicated gluten free farm here in Oregon.  Being a farmer and seeing the benefits of our animals being gluten free, I believe no one should be eating gluten. If you do the research on what has been done to wheat over the course of time you may come to the conclusion that no one should eat it too. 

    Edited by Midway Farms Oregon
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  • About Me

    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.

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