Research uncovers potential link that gluten free diets could cause cancer and chronic illness

Published: 20 March 2017


If menus at inner city cafes and school tuck shops are anything to go by, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s an outbreak of coeliac disease that’s reached pandemic proportions.

However, the truth be told, there’s less than 350,000 coeliac sufferers in the country, and while for them, a gluten free diet is a medical necessity, for the rest of us there’s new evidence to suggest it’s a dangerous fad that can be doing more harm than good.

Researchers at the University of Illinois have found that people who opt for a ‘Gluten Free Lifestyle’ may be exposing their bodies to increased amounts of cancer causing arsenic and mercury.

The supposed contamination is believed to come from rice flour, a wheat substitute, which is known to have relatively high levels of arsenic.

As reported in the Daily Mail, the UK’s Food Standards Agency has already issued a notice to parents to avoid giving toddlers rice milk due to the dangers.

Professor Maria Argos, from the UIC School of Public Health looked at people aged 6-80 on gluten free diets and found that they double the concentration of arsenic in their urine than those on rounded diets, while their mercury blood levels were also 70% higher. Both things that can contribute to cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The Professor did stipulate despite the results; more study needs to be undertaken to determine if there was a significant health risk with going gluten free when not medically required. 

This follows a previous study by Harvard University that found those on gluten free diets also run a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.