Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten in the diet of sensitive individuals. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, and consequently is common in some of America’s most popular foods, including pizza, pasta, pretzels and beer. The treatment for celiac disease, a gluten-free diet, is supposed to restore the tiny fingers in the small intestine, called villi, that get damaged when people are exposed gluten.
New research from Sweden shows that if the intestinal villi don’t recover, people with celiac disease have nearly four times the risk of lymphoma compared to healthy people without celiac disease. In those whose villi had recovered, the risk of lymphoma is only slightly elevated. Researchers will now need to focus on strategies that can help promote intestinal healing.
[Annals of Internal Medicine, Aug. 6, 2013]
Celiac disease is more widely recognized than it once was. To learn more, you may wish to listen to our interview with world-renowned celiac disease expert, Peter Green, MD.