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The Cancer Connection
by Ron Hoggan

There is much evidence linking untreated celiac disease with malignancy. I have recently been notified of publication of a report I have written on that connection, which is promised for the September, 1997 issue of _Medical Hypotheses_ (1). In that report, I combine a review of the literature with an outline of a possible biochemical pathway whereby psychoactive peptides derived from the pepsin digests of wheat, rye and barley may downregulate the activation of natural killer cells, the body's first line of defence against malignancy. This is not a postulation that glutenous grains are carcinogenic. Humankind has been exposed to carcinogens throughout its ~two million year evolution. But it is only in recent centuries that malgnancy has increased exponentially, and has struck so many children and adolescents. This is clearly a counter-evolutionary trend when youngsters are afflicted, because the incidence should be decreasing over time, as these youngsters' genes are being pruned from the gene pool. There is some evidence which has come to light since my aforementioned report, which will be of interest to celiacs and members of their families.

M.Stanislas Tanchou, a truly visionary physician, who campaigned with Napoleon Bonaparte, presented a paper to the Paris Science Society in 1843, which was a complex statistical examination of malignancy, offering evidence of increased malignancy with increased civilization(2). One of the prime indicators of a civilizing trend was a diet which included cereal grains. The greater the consumption of these foods, the greater the incidence of malignancy (3).

Dr. Chris Reading, an orthomolecular psychiatrist, in Australia, has documented the treatment of five cancer patients for depression (4). His testing for food allergies, and subsequent treatment of depression with dietary exclusion of cereal grains resulted in total remission of the cancers (which were also given conventional treatments) in all five patients he reports treating. One of these patients did die, but that was from the cancer treatment.

There are also two reports in the _Journal of Clinical Gastroenterol_(5) _Lancet_ (6) which I cite in my _Medical Hypotheses_ article. These reveal a total remission of malignancy in each patient. One report then recants the original diagnosis, and identifies the correct diagnosis as lymphadenopathy. In the other report, which spurs a heated debate, the original diagnosis is supported by a resected section of malignant bowel, and there can be no doubt as to the correct diagnosis.

Further, in a 1977 report, in _Nutrition and Cancer_ (8), from Stanford University, *all* the children suffering from radiation and chemotherapy damage to the small bowel recovered fully from their chronic enteritis, and suffered *no* relapse of either the bowel obstruction or the disease. The treatment they were given was a gluten-free, dairy-free, low fat, low residue diet.

In an obscure Czech journal, a report has recently indicated that one or more of the gliadins, a sub-set of proteins in gluten, may also interfere with natural killer cell activation in peripheral blood (9). They tested the levels of natural killer cell activation in normals, and in treated celiacs, and found no significant difference. BUT, after 30 minutes' exposure of the celiacs' blood to gliadin, there was a reduced activation of natual killer cells.

For the last hundred years, billions of dollars have been spent identifying carcinogens. Most of what we encounter in our environment appears to have some measure of carcinogenic potential. Unfortunately, we have failed to recon that Humanity has been exposed to most of these carcinogens throughout its evolution. Conventional wisdom has pointed to the the increasing levels of chemical pollution and environmental damage. And I do not doubt that these factors are contributing to the current epidemic of malignacy. What I do doubt is that segment of the population, variously reported at 20% to 30%, which has the HLA factors which predispose to celiac disease and many other autoimmune diseases, can mount an adequate immune response, with natural killer cells, against malignancy.


  1. Hoggan R, "Considering Wheat, Rye, and Barley Proteins as Aids to Carcinogens" in press _Medical Hypotheses_ ;1997
  2. Tanchou S, "Statistics of Cancer" _London Lancet_ 1843; Aug 5, 593
  3. Audette R, personal communication
  4. Reading C, Meillon R, _Your Family Tree Connection_ Keats; New Canaan, Conn.: 1988
  5. Wink A, et. al. "Disappearance of Mesenteric Lymphadenopathy with Gluten-Free Deit in Celiac Sprue" _J. Clin. Gastroenterol_1993; 16(4): 317-319
  6. Wright DH, et. al. "Coeliac disease and Lymphoma" _Lancet_ 1991; 337:1373
  7. Wright DH, et. al. letter _Lancet_ 1991; 338: 318-319
  8. Donaldson SS, "Effect of Nutrition as Related to Radiation and Chemotherapy" _Nutrition and Cancer_ Winick ed. 1977; Wiley & Sons, New York, 137153
  9. Castany M, Nguyen H, Pospisil M, Fric P, Tlaskalova-Hogenova H, "Natural killer cell activity in coeliac disease: effect of in vitro treatment on effector lymphocytes and/or target lymphoblastoid, myeloid and epithelial cell lines with gliadin" _Folia Microbiol_ 1995 (Praha) 40; 6: 615-620