As we all know gluten pops up where we least expect it. Of course as time goes on with the gluten-free diet, nothing really surprises us any more right?
This weekend I started wondering about cigarettes and their gluten status as well as impact on celiac disease. I have never smoked, but it just struck me as something that gets put in the mouth and inhaled — so it better be checked out! There are definitely a few interesting “takeaways” from what I found, along with some still-unanswered questions.
Celiac Disease and Smoking Cigarettes: The Research
I was very surprised to actually discover that there has been research in this area. In 2001 there was a study about the relationship between the two using patients and control subjects. The study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology concluded, “…a significantly lower proportion of patients with celiac disease were current smokers at the time of diagnosis, and that cigarette smoking delayed diagnosis of celiac disease.” Huh? Interesting. So a follow up to this study looked at whether smoking cigarettes actually cause celiac using the Bradford Hill Criteria of Causation. In 2003, the research showed,
“…cigarette smoking truly protects against the development of adult coeliac[sic] disease.” – September 2003 European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
From that research it sounds like smoking can delay the onset of celiac disease. Does it say that everyone at risk of getting celiac should go out and start smoking? No.
Is there Gluten in Cigarettes?
So if you’re already diagnosed with celiac and your a smoker– what does this mean for the gluten free status of your cigarettes? As I eluded to at the beginning…this appears to be a very gray area. Phillip Morris has an ingredient listing for all of its cigarettes, after looking over several products– one consistent area is the natural flavorings that you would want to be cautious of when looking for “gluteny” ingredients.
One forum discussion on Celiac.com brought this issue up earlier this week– brought into question not the ingredients of the tobacco mixture, but the other “incidental” parts. The person asked the maker of Natural American Spirit Tobacco if their cigarettes were gluten free. The company response the forum participant posted, stated, “While there is no gluten in our Natural American Spirit tobacco, it is possible that trace amounts of gluten are present in our paper and adhesive materials. Our cigarettes are no more or less likely to contain gluten than other cigarette brands.”
Another forum discussed this topic as well. Some saying their symptoms worsened with different brands of cigarettes.
Clearly cigarette smoking brings on a host of other health concerns not related to celiac disease. I think virtually all medical professionals would recommend any patient quit smoking –whether they are at risk of developing celiac disease or not.
If you’re not going to quit — you at least need to take care of your celiac disease– which if untreated will lead to an additional host of other serious health issues– like cancer, osteoporosis, anemia and more. So you must take it upon yourself to ensure what you’re smoking is gluten-free. Because nickel and “dime-ing” yourself with gluten-contaminated cigarettes would likely negate the gluten free diet you’re working so hard to achieve.