Scientists in The Netherlands have revealed how gluten plays a role in the development of a rare form of cancer, for some people with coeliac disease (1). The experts have proved that immune system cells, which react to gluten, produce chemicals called cytokines that can contribute to the development of a rare form of lymphoma – cancer of the white blood cells. A clear explanation for the rising rate of gluten-related disorders remains elusive. Multiple factors interact, with no clear or original cause. But genetically modified foods may be an important piece of the puzzle, as they are engineered to tolerate a weed killer called Roundup®, whose active ingredient is glyphosate. Genetically modified products include soy, corn (88% of the U.S. corn crop genetically engineered), cottonseed, canola, sugar, papaya from Hawaii or China, zucchini, and yellow squash. These crops, known as Roundup-Ready crops, accumulate high levels of glyphosate that remain in the food. A recent analysis of research suggests that Bt-toxin, glyphosate, and other components of GMOs, are linked to five conditions that may either initiate or exacerbate gluten-related disorders (2), such as:
- Intestinal permeability
- Imbalanced gut bacteria
- Immune activation and allergies
- Impaired digestion
- Damage to the intestinal wall
Unfortunately, avoidance of GMOs in the gluten-free community presents a unique challenge to consumers. Many people who discover they are gluten-sensitive actually increase their intake of GMOs because they switch from wheat products to corn products.