If i believe some of the things I have read about being Coeliac I would avoid all gluten , but I have read that if we eat anything that we are not suppose to eat we risk bowel cancer, Yet on the Cancer web site I have as much chance getting that with my age and family history more than I have being coeliac, so my question is Do we really have more chance of getting a type of cancer if we eat the wrong foods, or do we just get bloated and feel bad??

15 Replies

  • Hi Jill

    I don't know what the statistics might be on this, unfortunately the older you get the more likely you are to get general health problems, including cancer.

    If you are coeliac and do not follow a strict gluten free diet, research suggests that you are more at risk of developing certain types of cancer.

    If you have a look for research done by Alessio Fasano, he has found that intestinal permeability/inflammation caused by the effects of gluten amongst other things, is linked to several health problems including depression, Crohns, schizophrenia and cancer.

  • I do take issue with the reference to lactose in Thor above article. It says this won't damage the body but there might be gastro symptoms!!! Surely if there are symptoms of inflamation this is causing damage. Why are UK doctors so narrow minded?

  • Sorry have to say I contacted the cancer research people and we are no more at risk than others of my age and family history

  • Not sure what you are sorry about, it sounds like good news!

  • This is one of the Fasano research papers, with a list of associated health problems on page 7.

  • Hi Jill,

    I don't think there is any conclusive evidence that links eating gluten to cancers. That said this seems to be the norm for the causes of many cancers. The most publicised I guess is 'smoking causes lung cancer', but there are many people who smoke and don't get it. I guess it's a case of increasing the likelihood of getting a cancer if you do this or eat that.

    I am a asymptomatic coeliac so thought when diagnosed "so what, no problems bar low B12. I'll just have regular injections and carry on". When the consultant made me aware I was increasing my risk of cancers etc, I changed my mind and have been gluten free for 9 years.

    The silver lining is I now believe a GF diet is far healthier than the rubbish I was eating before!!

  • But there is evidence that untreated coeliac disease is linked to cancers and in particular Carcinoid tumours are most associated with coeliac disease. Being coeliac there's the inflammatory response, lack of absorption of beneficial vitamins and minerals.

    I for one did not have a rubbish diet before finally being diagnosed, but it did contain a damaging protein (gluten). Coeliac disease has a higher than average risk of gut cancer.

    Ironically smoking exerts a protective effect against CD - hence some family members having CD and others not. Despite the research they aren't shouting about that! []

  • the latter publication states that despite a lower risk than first thought:

    "However, the risk remained 10-fold increased for small intestinal carcinomas ..."

  • There are also non smokers who get lung cancer (Roy Castle being a notable example). Predilection to various types of cancer is definitely very much linked to lifestyle choices - too much sun without protection when young can lead to skin cancers, smoking causing cancers of the tongue, bladder and lungs, eating gluten when a diagnosed Coeliac etc etc etc BUT there are folks who do all of the above and will never develop those particular cancers.

    As for diet, mine prior to being diagnosed was vegetarian and predominantly naturally gluten free anyway but I did love my crusty and artisan breads which I have had to give up. There are almost no like GF substitutes for these and in my personal opinion, those bread and pastry products are not healthier - they are full of starches and additives to make them look and behave like their gluten counterparts. :)

  • have to agree with you on the bread front, I also find that as I have put on a fair amount of weight on the gluten free living I have to do, I find it very hard to even diet as most gluten food is full of fats so I am struggling with the decision as to weather or not i should go back to eating normal food, i was never in pain before i had a bit of acid reflux and a bout of helibactor pylori but nothing else and an e gp told me that if they have no idea what is causing your symptoms they give it the closest match mine was coeliac, sadly so thats what i have been following even thought my bloods show I still eat wheat, which i havent for over 2 years thats why im re thinking this all

  • I have found that one of the the best way to control my weight and my health has been to avoid all ready-made gluten free foods. If I want it , I make it. Apart from too much sugar etc, the additives affect me badly. There is research suggesting that they can contribute to a variety of problems with gut health.

    My husband was diagnosed with pre-diabetes a few years ago, and as he had joined me in going gluten free, I decided to join him when he cut his carbohydrates. He is no longer pre-diabetic and I am down a couple of stone.

    Good luck with sorting out what works for you.

  • Hi,

    I'm a bit concerned.

    If you have Coeliac Disease, you must try to avoid gluten. Any amount of gluten is damaging, even though having a little bit of gluten may not cause you to have symptoms. My understanding is over the long term, this damage can lead to complications, such as cancer.

    If you do not have Coeliac Disease, just eat the amount of gluten, you're comfortable with.

    Best of Luck!

  • A coeliac friend had bowel cancer. They weren't diagnosed until they were middle aged, so decades of gluten damage. It was apparently caused by constant inflammation.

    If you've got a family history too then I'd have thought that's probably an increased risk.

    Not just bloating! [and why I'm annoyed when people think it's no big deal having the disease.]

  • Hi, I read recently that the cancer risk for coeliacs had been very much overstated and was found to be much lower than was previously thought. For me, the main thing is to listen to the body but also enjoy life! I'm sure that the more we worry and tense up, the worse the effects get (and the book 'Gut' by Giulia Enders mentions how peripheral issues can worsen digestive conditions, an area which is apparently now getting some research). Good luck!

  • Well I must be the only one then, though that's not what they told me at the cancer hospital. I've been asymptomatic since childhood but was only diagnosed with coeliac disease recently and now bowel cancer, caused by late diagnosis. No family history of cancer. I thought there couldn't be a problem and definitely not cancer, but no amount of positive thinking has helped, Hil101.

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