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Jane Anderson

Gluten Sensitivity Cancer Risks Possibly Higher Than Average

By February 6, 2014

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It's pretty clear what risks for cancer those with celiac disease face -- there's been lots of research done on that subject. But what about those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity -- what are the cancer risks there?

Perhaps not surprisingly, that picture's not clear, although there are some hints that people with gluten sensitivity may actually see similar cancer risks to those with celiac disease.

I explain what we know (and what we don't yet know) here: Gluten Sensitivity and Cancer Risks

If you have gluten sensitivity, should you worry?

I don't think you should worry, per se. But I also don't think you should take your health condition any less seriously than someone with celiac disease ... it wouldn't shock me to see research over the next few years indicating the risks of cheating on the gluten-free diet are just as real for those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity as they are for celiac disease.

Keep up with the latest in the celiac disease/gluten sensitivity world -- sign up for my newsletter, connect with me on Facebook and Google+, or follow me on Twitter - @AboutGlutenFree.

Photo Getty Images/Rob Melnychuk


January 31, 2013 at 8:04 am
(1) Jess says:

Hi Jane,
Thank you for continuing to post up to date and relevant info on both Celiac Disease and NCGS. I have a feeling that non celiac gluten sensitivity is not as “harmless” as some out there seem to think it is…I think that people who suffer from it need to listen to their bodies’ signals to avoid wheat. Hopefully with time there will a lot more information and guidance for this growing population!
All the best to you!

January 31, 2013 at 12:19 pm
(2) minnie says:

More non celiacs die of cancer than those with celiac because there are more of them! Everybody dies of something eventually…

January 31, 2013 at 4:11 pm
(3) celiacdisease says:

Minnie, the studies I cite in my article are not talking about total numbers of people. Instead, they’re talking about cancer risk levels for people with particular conditions compared to cancer risk levels in the overall population. It might help to think of it as percentages — i.e., X percent of people with a particular condition develop cancer, compared to Y percent of people in the overall population.

But you raise a good point: because the number of people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) likely is much higher than the number of people with celiac disease, the total number of potentially gluten-related cancers in the NCGS group will be much higher, too. Scary thought.

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