It's nice to hear when having celiac disease might actually confer a lower-than-average risk for another serious condition ... and that appears to be the case for breast cancer and possibly also for colon cancer.
Yesterday, on World Cancer Day, I told you that the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in celiacs is higher than normal, so today I wanted to share some good news: women with celiac disease (and possibly also those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity) appear to be much less likely than the general population to get breast cancer.
It's not entirely clear why this may be so, but it's possible that it relates to gluten's effects on your hormones -- many of us have experienced problems that indicate lower-than-normal levels of the so-called "female" hormones estrogen and progesterone. Those hormones can drive the development of breast cancer, so lower levels potentially would be protective.
Learn more about the research here: Celiac Disease and Breast Cancer: Is There A Relationship?
As far as colon cancer goes, the evidence there isn't as strong for a protective effect, even though some studies have shown one. But the good news is, there's no evidence that having celiac disease raises your risk of colon cancer; what evidence there is points in the other direction.
Read more about what researchers have found here: Celiac Disease and Colon Cancer Risk
Now, you can't discount the possibility of either of these two cancers entirely -- celiacs still can get them, even if the numbers are lower than average. But it's nice to know celiac disease potentially can have a somewhat beneficial effect on your health, too.
Photo © Getty Images/Ross M. Horowitz