The Anonymous Widower

Should The NHS Adopt A Whack-A-Coeliac Policy?

The Wikipedia entry for Whac-a-Mole, says this about the colloquial use of the name of an arcade game.

In late June 2020, Boris Johnson based the UK’s COVID-19 strategy on the game.

Because of the high number of diagnosed coeliacs in the Cambridge area, I believe that I was diagnosed to be coeliac, by possible use of a Whack-a-Coeliac policy at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, in the last years of the Twentieth Century.

  • I was suffering from low B12 levels and my GP sent me to the hospital to see a consultant.
  • It was only a quick visit and all I remember, is the speed with which the nurse took my blood.
  • A couple of days later, I received a letter from the hospital, saying it was likely I was a coeliac and it would be confirmed by an endoscopy.
  • A point to note, is that I had my endoscopy with just a throat spray and this must have increased the efficiency and throughput and reduced the  cost of the procedure.

The only way, I could have been diagnosed so quickly would have been through an analysis of my genes and blood. But I was never told, what method was used.

I have a few further thoughts.

My Health Since Diagnosis

It has undoubtedly improved.

Cancer And Diagnosed Coeliacs On A Gluten-Free Diet

Joe West of Nottingham University has shown, that diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a 25% lower risk of cancer compared to the general population.

That is certainly a collateral benefit of being a coeliac. But is it being a coeliac or the diet?

I’m no medic, but could the reason be, that diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a strong immune system?

Coeliac Disease Is A Many-Headed Hydra

I have heard a doctor describe coeliac disease or gluten-sensitivity as a many-headed hydra, as it can turn up in so many other illnesses.

Type “coeliac disease many-headed hydra” into Google and this article on the NCBI , which is entitled Gluten Sensitivity: A Many Headed Hydra, is the first of many.

This is the sub-title of the article.

Heightened responsiveness to gluten is not confined to the gut

My son; George was an undiagnosed coeliac, who had a poor diet consisting mostly of Subways, cigarettes and high-strength cannabis. He died at just thirty-seven of pancreatic cancer.

Did George have a poor immune system, which was useless at fighting the cancer?

Undiagnosed Coeliac Disease In The Over-Sixty-Fives

In A Thought On Deaths Of The Elderly From Covid-19, I used data from Age UK and Coeliac UK to estimate the number of coeliacs in the UK over the age of sixty-five. I said this.

Age UK has a figure of twelve million who are over 65 in the UK. If 1-in-100 in the UK are coeliac, that is 120,000 coeliacs over 65.

But some research shows that the number of coeliacs can be as high as 1-in-50.

If that 120,000 were all diagnosed, I would have several coeliacs amongst my over-65 friends. I have just one and she is self-diagnosed.

Are all these undiagnosed coeliacs out there, easy targets for diseases like cancer and COVID-19?

The Ease Of Testing For Coeliac Disease

I was worried that my granddaughter was coeliac and I asked my GP, how difficult a test is to perform.

He said, that a genetic test is usually quick and correct and only a few borderline cases need to be referred to a consultant.

Diagnosis has moved on a lot in twenty years.

Cambridge, Oxford and Covid-19

Six weeks ago I wrote Oxford And Cambridge Compared On COVID-19, to try to find out why the number of Covid-19 cases are so much lower in Cambridge than Oxford.

Checking today, the rate of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents is as follows.

  • Cambridge 336.6
  • Oxford 449

So why the difference?

In the related post, this was my explanation.

Is the large number of diagnosed coeliacs around Cambridge, the reason the area has a lower COVID-19 rate than Oxford?

It sounds a long shot, but it could be a vindication of a possible Whack-a-Coeliac policy at Addenbrooke’s in the last years of the Twentieth Century.

Or were the hospital testing the genetic test for coeliac disease? Perhaps, in conjunction with Cambridge University and/or the Sanger Centre.


I believe the NHS should seriously look at a Whack-a-Coeliac policy!

  • The health of a large number of people would improve.
  • There would be less cancer in the UK.
  • A better combined National Immune System might help in our fight against the next virus to follow COVID-19.

It would be a very simple testing program, that would be mainly in the hands of the GPs, their nurses and the testing laboratories.

July 6, 2020 - Posted by | Health | , , , , , , , ,


  1. Interesting, because I was rushed to Hospital with blood loss from internal bleeding. I had both top and bottom cameras. I was told that they expected me to have a week to live, possibly! They said I was a coeliac due to lack of fronds in my small intesine. I had polyps removed when the camera was active. I tried a gluten free diet. It made no difference, I was precribed B12, Iron, Gland medicines. I went back some months later still losing lots of blood, and the doctor with camera said he he was surprised to see me as he thought I would be dead by now. I have had two emergency Blood Transfusions since. I stopped the Gluten Free bread because it was horrible, and my doctor said he had tried these gluten free remedies and they were horrible! They are full of fat, which I cannot digest well. So, where to go now? I have little bread, but I found out a lot about wheat researching how to make Sour dough bread. Grain has different strains that proof differently before and after baking. My local Morrisons bakes bread from ordinary flour, and it is not nice, and blouts you. I now find that soya flour is added to flour to increase profits. Soya is produced using lots of pesticides. Soya causes second generation birth defects when used as animal feed.

    Comment by jagracer | July 7, 2020 | Reply

  2. […] Should The NHS Adopt A Whack-A-Coeliac Policy? […]

    Pingback by A Coeliac’s Journey Through The Covids – Posts To Make You Think « The Anonymous Widower | April 30, 2023 | Reply

  3. […] that this page is an updated version of Should The NHS Adopt A Whack-A-Coeliac Policy?, which I wrote in July […]

    Pingback by Coeliac Journey Through Covid-19 – A Whack-A-Coeliac Policy « The Anonymous Widower | May 9, 2023 | Reply

  4. Both my parents had gut problems, dad was diagnosed as Ulcerative Colitis, and my mother had what someone had told her a “spastic colon”. Our diet at home was not good – low residue and high fat. My mother ate lot of bread and cakes and pastry. I suspect that she may have been coeliac, because the more cake etc she ate, the worse the “spastic colon” got.

    I spoke to my GP a couple of weeks ago, and he told I was coeliac, based on the number of cousins etc who are coeliac, but I wasn’t tested until nearly 12 months after a locum doctor told me cut out gluten permanently from my diet because I had an upset stomach. I did and I felt much much better and my stomach settled down. This GP said that to some extent it is a moot point whether or not I am actually coeliac – GF food isn’t available on prescription anymore in my area – I never claimed it anyway. He is quite happy with “this lady cannot have gluten in any form as this causes her to become ill” and I am fine with that. I eat Schar gluten free bread – their Brioche style bread rolls make a a quick and pleasant breakfast, buttered (but not very buttered) and depending on my morning diabetic reading, perhaps a very tiny scrape of jam. I also buy the frozen Schar bread rolls, they are lovely eaten warm, dipped into soup. The Schar ciabatta rolls are ok, not great, but ok. Mostly though we eat food which is naturally gluten free. As you know, I have cancer, a chronic form of blood cancer called Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia. If you goole it, or look on Leukaemia Care website, you will see that we aren’t given treatment until the disease progresses, and in the lead up to that, our immune system is poor; hence I have to be careful that I don’t go near people with infections, and also that I am careful around foods no blue cheese 😦 And all vegetables must be peeled etc, and generally I am ok, but I do get cross – often related to the lack to blue cheese. The no live yoghurts doesn’t bother me. But i occasionally having a craving for Cropwell Bishop Stilton, on fresh French bread, with a tiny bit of butter. But I don’t crave the result of eating that!

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | May 9, 2023 | Reply

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