What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a digestive disorder that damages the small intestine. The disease is triggered by eating foods containing gluten. Gluten is a protein found naturally in wheat, barley, and rye, and is common in foods such as bread, pasta, cookies, and cakes. Many pre-packaged foods, lip balms and lipsticks, hair and skin products, toothpastes, vitamin and nutrient supplements, and, rarely, medicines, contain gluten.
It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide.
When people with celiac disease eat gluten, their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.
The most common symptoms found in children:
- abdominal bloating and pain
- chronic diarrhea
- pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
The symptoms for Adults are:
- unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
- bone or joint pain
Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disease, which means that you cannot “grow out” of it. Lifelong adherence to the gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease. People living Gluten-free must avoid foods with wheat, rye and barley, such as bread and beer. Ingesting even small amounts of gluten can trigger small intestine damage.
>> Celiac disease is different from gluten sensitivity or wheat intolerance. If you have gluten sensitivity, you may have symptoms similar to those of celiac disease, such as abdominal pain and tiredness. Unlike celiac disease, gluten sensitivity does not damage the small intestine.
What Types of Cancer are Associated with Celiac Disease?
There are 3 types of cancer associated with celiac disease: enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma (EATL), non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and adenocarcinoma of the small intestine.
It is important to remember, however, that developing cancer due to celiac disease is quite rare. The vast majority of those with celiac disease will never develop these related cancers. The risk of cancer varies in those with celiac disease; those who have had more intestinal healing appear to be at lower risk than those who continue to have persistent damage.
What is the Connection between Cancer and Celiac Disease?
- Past studies have shown that the risk of lymphoma is slightly higher in people with celiac disease than the rest of the population.
- Following a strict gluten-free diet to help promote intestinal healing can lower the risk.
- Patients who are older at the time of diagnosis may be at increased risk because the intestine may heal more slowly.
- The risk of developing cancer may increase if a person with celiac disease has remained undiagnosed for a long period of time.
Sources: www.celiac.org, www.beyondceliac.org
Author – Muskaan