A study published in the January 2009 issue of the journal Gastroenterology finds that patients with celiac disease and their family members have an increased risk of developing lymphomas.
from the Bethesda-based National Cancer Institute and the Karolinska
Institute in Sweden evaluated 60,000 patients with lymphomas and found
that patients with celiac disease were five times more likely to
develop a lymphoma, compared with patients who did not have the
autoimmune disease. Family members of people with celiac disease were
two times as likely to develop a lymphoma.
Before we get into
more study results though, let's back up to make sure you actually
understand what lymphoma is. According to the National Library of Medicine,
lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system. There are several different
types, but the type most closely linked to celiac disease is called
Typical symptoms of Non-Hodgkins lymphoma include:
Swollen, painless lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin
Unexplained weight loss
Soaking night sweats
Coughing, trouble breathing or chest pain
Weakness and tiredness that don't go away
Pain, swelling or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen
Laboratory tests will help your doctor determine if you have
non-hodgkin's lymphoma. The most common treatments include
chemotherapy, radiation therapy and bone marrow transplant.
it remains unclear what the actual link between celiac and lymphoma is,
the researchers speculate that celiac disease leads to inflammation and
that inflammation drives the development of lymphomas.
researchers suggest two key messages from the findings. First, that
early detection of celiac disease can help decrease the risk of
developing lymphoma. This was evident when researchers examined the
link between celiac and lymphoma in the 1970s and compared it to rates
today. Finally, people with a family history of celiac disease have a
higher risk of developing lymphoma, which may suggest an "underlying
mechanism that leads to both celiac disease and lymphoma.
what's the bottom line? Get tested for celiac disease and if you're
positive, routinely test your family members. An early diagnosis and
treatment with a gluten-free diet could help prevent developing cancer
later in life.