Celiac Disease may be associated with an increased risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.




Journal of the American Medical Association

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Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder involving the small intestine. Sufferers of this disease cannot tolerate gluten which is a protein found in foods such as rye, barley, and wheat. When gluten is introduced to a celiac disease patient, the body responds by damaging the small intestine, primarily the villi. Essential nutrients are absorbed into the body by villi, and when this damage occurs, individuals may become malnourished despite the amount of food they consume. This genetic disease can have severe effects on the function of the body.

Symptoms of this disease differ from person to person. The most common complaints associated with Celiac disease included weight loss, chronic diarrhea, persistent abdominal pain, anemia, gas, and bone pain, among many others. Diagnosis of this disease can often be difficult because the symptoms are similar to other disease such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome.1 The only treatment for Celiac disease at this time is to follow a gluten free diet. This diet is a lifestyle change and not everyone responds to this diet.

Numerous complications can result from this disease. Because of poor absorption of vitamins and minerals, osteoporosis, miscarriage, and seizures can occur. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association examined the possible link between Celiac disease and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. This multicenter, case controlled investigation was conducted in Italy from 1996 through 1999. A total of 653 patients with lymphoma were recruited as well as over 5,000 health controls. Celiac disease was found in 6 of the lymphoma sufferers, and 4 of those had lymphoma mainly in the gut area. In the control group, 24 people were diagnosed with Celiac disease. After adjustments for age and sex the results showed that people suffering from Celiac disease have an increased risk for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma compared to healthy individuals. The authors of this study stated that although there is a higher risk, it is too early to justify mass screening for Celiac disease.2


1. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. National Institute of Health. Oct 2001.
2. Catassi C, et al. Risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Celiac Disease. JAMA. Mar 2002; 287:1413-1419.