Going Gluten-FreeNovember 11, 2014

Celiac Is Not A Death Sentence

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Posted by Christine Boyd

Celiac disease is not a death sentence. This reassuring fact is based on the latest research. According to this new study, celiacs like me—those who’ve hit the 10-year anniversary of their diagnosis--are no more likely to die from cancer or cardiovascular disease than the general population. (In case you’re wondering, cancer and cardiovascular disease are the leading causes of death in the United States.)

In fact, celiacs in the study were slightly less likely to die from cardiovascular disease. That’s probably because celiacs are less likely to smoke and tend to have a lower body mass index, researchers explained.

Although the study found celiacs were slightly more likely to die of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells, this was described as a “very small increased risk.”

Photo by Denphumi/istock/thinkstock

Unlike other studies that have looked at this morbid topic, this one, conducted in England, was large and well-designed. Translation: results are probably pretty reliable.

By the way, researchers didn’t look at how well celiacs actually adhered to the gluten-free diet. I’d venture to state there was a mix of both good and bad adherence among the 10,000 celiacs in the study. It stands to reason that findings would be even more encouraging if only those celiacs who took great care with their diet were included in the analysis.

I don’t know about you, but I felt like I got my life back after my celiac diagnosis. I now have the energy to do what I want every day, my stomach doesn’t hurt, my pants fit at the end of the day, my hair isn’t falling out any more. I could go on and on.

Yes, a celiac diagnosis is overwhelming--you’ve got to give up favorite foods, there’s no more “winging it” or eating on-the-go. And then there’s cross contamination, my personal gluten-free gripe.

And yes, the diagnosis can be scary--you’re sent for a biopsy, a bone scan and maybe tested for other associated conditions like thyroid disease. But it’s not that scary. We don't need to spend time worrying about the inevitability of the big C. It’s going to be all right. Read the entire study by clicking here.

 

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