Celiac.com 02/28/2008 - A study published in the Leukemia Research Journal (Volume 30, issue 12, Pages 1585-1586 - December 2006) looked at samples of serum from multiple myeloma patients. In 35% of the samples the myeloma monoclonal proteins had antigliadin activity, and migrated just like celiac anti-gliadin antibodies when subjected to electrophoresis. Monoclonal gammopathy (MGUS) is a precursor stage to multiple myeloma, with the same or very similar sort of monoclonal proteins as in multiple myeloma, and converts to it at the rate of about 1.5% per year. Therefore if one lives for 20 years after diagnosis with MGUS, one has a 30% chance of ending up with deadly, so far incurable, multiple myeloma, which is a cancer of the bone marrow and blood. For those diagnosed with MGUS it seems like a time bomb ticking, and each time one goes for the monitoring blood tests, there is some degree of anxiety. It was postulated by the researchers that multiple myeloma may actually be an end result of untreated celiac disease. This is why there has been a large reaction about this on the various MGUS web forums.Thirty-five percent is very high! At least one of our ChooseHope.com MGUS forum members was recently tested and found to have Celiac Disease and there are numerous other persons on the various MGUS forums alleging that they have this combination of conditions.
In another publication from the database at PubMed.gov (Gut. 1976 Sep;17(9):735-9.), a study that showed that when a patient with MGUS and Celiac Disease was put on a gluten-free diet the monoclonal proteins entirely disappeared by the end of 3 years! Hence you can imagine what big news this is to all the MGUS patients, on the various online MGUS forums. Here is the suggestion that Celiacs might avoid becoming MGUS patients, that MGUS patients might perhaps avoid progression to multiple myeloma, and that multiple myeloma patients might have halted or slower progression of their disease, simply by being on a gluten-free diet! This is indeed big news!
The ramifications of this are that everyone with Celiac Disease really should undergo testing for MGUS/Myeloma which can be associated with various autoimmune diseases, increased rate of osteoporosis, and neuropathy, or no symptoms at all! Likewise all MGUS patients should be tested for celiac disease, which again can be associated with various autoimmune diseases, increased rate of osteoporosis, and neuropathy, or no symptoms at all! Do you see the similarities?
I am currently working on a letter to Blue Cross Blue Shield, informing them of the results of these studies and suggesting that their policy of reimbursing for celiac DNA testing of first degree relatives of known celiacs should be expanded to also include all persons having serum monoclonal proteins. This would include not just MGUS and multiple myeloma, but also Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia.