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CLL Support Association
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Inflammation, CLL and gluten

I have been diagnosed with CLL in the last month. I had high inflammatory markers in my blood prior to my CLL diagnosis for several years along with degenerative joint disease. It had been recommended to me, pre CLL diagnosis, to eat gluten free because it reduces the inflammation in your body caused by wheat and other grains. I did that for 30 days but didn't really notice a difference with pain in my body resulting from inflammation

Questions: 1. Can inflammation in the body cause CLL?

2. Is there any evidence or personal experience in the community that would promote gluten free eating as necessary or desired when living with CLL to slow progression or to promote health?

6 Replies


Welcome! Thank you for an interesting question.

I guess you'll need to Google your way through some data. I fear tho', that the answer is No and No.

You would normally need more than 30 days gluten free to recover from gluten allergy / coeliac disease.

Ultimately there is much to learn about CLL and inflammation and any interactivity. I find often the deeper one digs into available knowledge the less certain the facts are. Indeed if a fact is uncertain does it cease to be a fact.

Having CLL is one thing, adding in Co-morbidity certainly changes ones medical vista.

Wishing you all best wishes.


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Hi Sophia,

Welcome and I’m sorry to hear of your recent CLL diagnosis. You must still feel in shock and wonder what you can do to help yourself. None of us can know why we developed CLL and there’s a lot of speculation but this is my take on it and others may disagree.

Purely from a personal and experiential viewpoint, my answer would have to be, ‘I firmly believe so’ to question 1 and ‘the jury is still out on this one’ to question 2.

I’ve had a degenerative joint problem which I’ve had for over 30 yrs and higher inflammatory markers.

I’m wondering if you have any of the issues associated with metabolic syndrome such as high b/p, higher cholesterol, higher glucose levels, less than ideal weight and perhaps have been under a great deal of stress?

I firmly believe that these factors can have a part to play and I’m pretty convinced they contributed to the development of my CLL.

I was never told to reduce gluten in my diet but most certainly I’ve had to reduce excess sugar and carbohydrates which are associated with inflammation. Add severe stress to the pot and it seems to create the perfect storm. It is possible to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet that doesn’t mean the elimination of gluten (unless you’ve been confirmed as having coeliac disease of course). As difficult as it is, stress reduction is very important and as much exercise as we can manage.

You may find the following articles interesting.

‘Cytokines such as TNF-α and IL-6 that are released from adipose cells can promote inflammation and insulin resistance associated with cancer risk and progression.’


‘Stress increases the production of neutrophils (granulopoiesis) and some of these processes occur in chronic situations. Special signals move the stem cells in the direction of the producing neutrophils. In states where cholesterol or blood sugars are very high for a long time (diabetes and blood vessel disease), these signals are also high. This adds other cytokines. Signals from the brain stress system (steroids and adrenalin from adrenal pituitary axis and sympathetic nervous system) also triggers more leukocytes.’

‘Neutrophils that are dying, but not dead, increase inflammation.’


Link between gluten and arthritis;


Best wishes,



The Book " N of 1 " discusses this a bit,

See the CLL Society site as well,

Be well,



Thank you!


cllsociety.org for the CLL Society


Sophia - I think that, especially when new or facing treatment, we spend a lot of time asking why me. I came up with list of several possibilities including living on a farm and the chemicals involved, working right next to a major freeway interchange in Los Angeles and breathing all of the exhaust, stress, growing up with constant cigarette smoke in the house, genetics, something about my diet, and on and on. I finally decided that if specialists can't come up with an answer, that it is healthier for me to concentrate on looking forward.

I do think that once diagnosed it can't hurt to try to reduce as much stress as possible, and that playing around with elimination diets sometimes leads to a cause for diet related complications. Also consider any medications you are taking.

I have found that milk products can trigger issues for me. If you have access to a good nutritionalist or dietician with an interest in food allergies or food related inflammation, working with someone like that could be very helpful in looking for any possible diet related issues. Some will have you down to living on water ( well, not quite that severe) then adding different food groups in one by one, while others will have you eliminate one food group at a time. Either way they will have a good idea of how long to go on any particular approach before making a change. You can, of course, google, but you are likely to come up with multiple conflicting answers.

No matter which approach you decide to try you will find a lot of support here. When I was new there were very few resources like this one. That was 17 years ago and Dr. Google said I'd be dead in 5 years. Oops! He missed it by several! Stay away from him, and stick to reliable groups like this and CLL Society!

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