A study looking at the reduced risk of breast cancer in women with coeliac disease

Cancer type:

Breast cancer

Status:

Results

Phase:

Other

This study was done to find out more about why women with coeliac disease have a reduced risk of breast cancer.

Coeliac disease is a disorder of the small bowel. It is caused by a reaction of the body’s immune system to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. People with coeliac disease need to follow a gluten free diet to avoid symptoms and to prevent damage to the small bowel.

Several studies have shown that women with coeliac disease have a reduced risk of breast cancer. But the reasons for this are still unclear.

The researchers running the study collected and analysed information about women with coeliac disease. They compared this to information from a group of women of a similar age who did not have coeliac disease (the control group).

The aim of this study was to understand more about why coeliac disease is linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer.

Summary of results

The research team found that women with coeliac disease had some factors that increased their risk of breast cancer and some factors that decreased their risk of breast cancer.

The study team asked 10,193 women with coeliac disease to complete a questionnaire and they got 7,416 responses. The questionnaire asked about a number of lifestyle and reproductive factors. They compared their answers to those from women without coeliac disease.

They found that women with coeliac disease are more likely to

  • Have had a baby, and had their first baby before turning 30
  • Have breastfed their babies
  • Be younger when they go through the menopause

These factors all reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.

However, they also found that women with coeliac disease are more likely to

  • Be white
  • Have started their periods before they were 11
  • Have irregular periods
  • Be in a higher social class

These factors all increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

The women with coeliac disease had a similar average height and weight to that of the general population.

The research team concluded that women with coeliac disease had some factors that increase and some factors that decrease the risk of breast cancer developing. They suggest that the reduced risk of breast cancer is related to menstrual and reproductive factors.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the study. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed) but may not have been published in a medical journal.  The figures we quote above were provided by the study team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr N. Lewis
Professor R. Logan
Dr J. West

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Coeliac UK
Derby Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 1076

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Harriet wanted to try new treatments

A picture of Harriet

“I was keen to go on a clinical trial. I wanted to try new cancer treatments and hopefully help future generations.”

Last reviewed:

Rate this page:

Currently rated: 5 out of 5 based on 1 vote
Thank you!
We've recently made some changes to the site, tell us what you think

Share this page