Allergies prevent Cancer?

In the instant-solution and quick-fix world that is the present day, allergy reactions are often quelled using chemical drugs in order to bring about a quick end to any physical discomfort which one may be going through. However, recent research published in The Quarterly Review of Biology has strongly suggested that allergies have an important role to play - protection against toxic substances which cause certain types of cancer.

Details and Findings of Study

The article, which was written by researchers from Cornell University, has given an indication that the symptoms of allergies may help ward off cancer by doing their part to expel foreign particles, some of which may be carcinogenic or carry carcinogens with them, from the body. Allergic reactions also serve as alarm bells for potential harmful substances in the air.

A link between allergies and cancer has long been postulated in the medical community. But after many studies carried out on the subject, confusion still persists, with some studies finding positive correlation between the two (i.e. cancer patients suffered from more allergies), some finding the opposite, and some unable to establish any association at all.

But some light was shed when the Cornell study team looked at close to 650 previous studies carried out in the last half a century and examined the effects of different types of cancer as well as specific types of allergic reactions. Their findings were more than interesting.

Stronger Link Found in Organs Which Had Direct Contact With Environmental Particles

Negative correlation between allergies and cancer were a lot more likely to be found with regard to cancers of organs which had direct contact with particles from the environment external to the body. These include the mouth, throat, cervix, pancreas, glial brain cells, colon as well as rectum. Just to recap, a negative correlation means that those who suffered more from allergies were less likely to also have cancer - this implies a protective effect of the former on the latter.

Such negative correlation, however, was less likely for cancers of tissues which were more isolated, such as the breasts, prostate and meningeal brain cells; correlation was also weaker for myeloma, myelocytic leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

With regard to specific types of allergic reactions, negative correlation between allergies and cancer was only found for those reactions associated with bodily tissues which had direct exposure to external attacks - namely eczema, food allergies, meat allergies, hay fever and hives.

Exception for Asthma and Lung Cancer

It seems that an exception may exist for asthma and lung cancer, though. Most of the previous studies analyzed had found a positive correlation between the two. And the study team explained that, “essentially, asthma obstructs clearance of pulmonary mucous, blocking any potentially prophylactic benefit of allergic expulsion”. On the flip side, other lung-related allergies have protective effects.

Should We Be Suppressing Allergic Reactions?

The key takeaway from this study is that, if allergies are the body’s natural means of protecting itself against disease, then why are we turning this mechanism off via artificial intervention?

According to the study team, more research in this area will be needed. “We hope that our analyses and arguments will encourage such cost / benefit analyses. More importantly, we hope that our work will stimulate reconsideration [...] of the current prevailing view [...] that allergies are merely disorders of the immune system which, therefore, can be suppressed with impunity,” wrote the team, which was led by Paul Sherman, a professor of neurobiology and behavior at Cornell.

The Importance of Uncomfortable Symptoms

In reality, the findings of this study will not come as a huge surprise to those who are vaguely familiar with the basics of natural health and healing. Running noses, coughs, skin breakouts and other symptoms are the body’s way of eliminating toxins and unwanted materials which it finds it cannot carry out via the more usual channels. While conventional medicine likes to suppress them, natural healers know that they can be valuable for healing.

In fact, some natural healers even deliberately induce symptoms to speed up the body’s recovery processes. One symptom which comes to mind is fever, which helps to kill invading organisms, stimulates the body’s production of more immune cells, as well as increases the activity of these cells.

Suppressing symptoms may bring short-term relief for physical discomfort, but it has the potential to do untold harm to the body in the long run. Unfortunately, that is exactly what most people are doing today via the use of chemical medications, which are themselves a source of toxins for the body. What a strange irony.


The Upside to Allergies: Cancer Prevention

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Anti-allergen Ideas

We lost two older house pets in a period of about 16 months, which I’ve mentioned before on HealthBeat. What I haven’t mentioned is one upside to such sadness: A family member who visits can now enter our home without her allergies kicking up.

The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health points out that allergens — the problems that irritate one’s allergies – can exist indoors, even in the wintertime.

Allergens are substances that create an allergic response – material like pet dander, dust mites, mold, mice and cockroaches. Irritants can cause symptoms but not an allergic response. They include dust particles and fine particulates like fuels, gases and odors.
The college offers these suggestions that can help alleviate indoor allergy problems:
Control humidity levels Ideally, home humidity levels should range between 30 to 40 percent. Providing an environmental balance with humidity is especially important in bedrooms.
Remove or change things that harbor allergensThe American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) says carpet removal can make a big difference. For dust mites, encase pillows and mattresses in anti-allergy pillowcases and covers. Wash rugs and bedding regularly in hot water.
Monitor heating and air-exchange systemsReplace furnace filters regularly. Have a heating and air-conditioning engineer check your home’s air exchange rate.
Watch for and eliminate mold sourcesIf there is a mold level in your home during winter, there is probably an indoor source like a water leak or standing water. The only way to eliminate mold is to remove the moisture that’s causing it. A musty or moldy smell alone doesn’t necessarily mean your home has a mold problem.
Avoid allergy sourcesIf you’re allergic to pet dander, the only effective way to eliminate the allergen is to keep pets out of the house. It takes six months to clear a home of allergy sources from pets. If removing the pet is not practical, keep it outdoors and out of the bedroom as much as possible.
Take care when vacuuming There just isn’t much research on the effectiveness of HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaners. This type of vacuum might reduce pet-allergen exposure but not necessarily dust mites. There’s evidence that a regular vacuum cleaner with a double-layered bag could help with dust mites. Since vacuuming flings dust and particles into the air, it might be helpful to wear a mask while vacuuming.
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Will the “Shot” give you allergy Relief?

What are allergy shots?

An allergy shot contains a very small amount of the substance that you are allergic to (called an allergen). Common allergens include mold and pollen from grasses, ragweed and trees. So, for example, if you are allergic to grass pollen, a small amount of grass pollen will be put into the shot.

How do allergy shots work?

Allergy shots help your body fight the allergen. When you get shots of the allergen, your body makes antibodies to the allergen. The next time you have contact with the allergen, these antibodies help block its effect. Because the antibodies block the way your body reacts to the allergen, your allergy symptoms become less severe. After many allergy shots, you might start to get relief from your allergy symptoms. This relief will last for a long time.

What kind of allergies can be treated with allergy shots?

Allergy shots work well for pollen allergies(also called allergic rhinitis or hay fever), eye allergies, bee-sting allergies and some drug allergies. In some people, allergy shots can improve asthma symptoms.

Usually people get allergy shots after they have tried other treatments that haven’t worked. Other treatments include avoiding allergens and taking medicine, such as an antihistamine.

Can everyone get allergy shots?

No. Allergy shots may not be good for you if you have severe asthma or heart problems.You shouldn’t get allergy shots if you take a beta blocker for heart problems. Children younger than 5 years of age also shouldn’t get allergy shots.

You shouldn’t start allergy shots if you are pregnant. If you have been taking allergy shots for some time and become pregnant, talk to your doctor. You may be able to continue taking your allergy shots.

What will happen if my doctor and I choose allergy shots to treat my allergy?

Your doctor will want to do an allergy test to help determine exactly what is causing your allergy. An allergy skin test puts tiny amounts of allergens onto your skin to see which ones you react to. Or, your doctor may decide to do a blood test, such as the radioallergosorbent test (called RAST) or the ImmunoCap test.

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How many shots will I have to get?

Quite a few. You will start getting shots 1 or 2 times each week. After about 6 months of weekly shots, your doctor will decide when you can start maintenance treatment. Maintenance shots are usually given just once each month, year round. You’ll probably need to get maintenance shots for 3 to 5 years. Then you may be able to stop having shots.

Are allergy shots harmful?

Allergy shots are usually safe. But because allergy shots contain small amounts of an allergen you might have an allergic reaction to the shot itself. One common reaction to allergy shots is swelling at the place where the shot is given.

Some people can also have severe, shock-like reactions to an allergy shot. This type of reaction is called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is rare but very serious. If you get your shots on schedule (every week or every month), you’re less likely to have this kind of reaction.

In case you have a bad reaction, your doctor will have you stay at the office for about 20 minutes every time you get your shot. That way, if you have a reaction to the shot, your doctor can give you something right away to stop it.

How long after I start taking the allergy shots before I feel better?

It usually takes 6 months or more of shots before you start feeling better and notice relief of your allergy symptoms. If you don’t feel better after this time, you should probably talk with your doctor about another kind of treatment for your allergies.


Written by editorial staff.

Use of Immunotherapy in a Primary Care Office by T Craig, D.O., AM Sawyer, R.N., M.SC.N. and JA Fornadley, M.D. (American Family Physician April 15, 1998,

Reviewed/Updated: 06/06
Created: 04/98

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Types of Allergy Medication

Many people who suffer from allergies need some form of allergy medication to bring relief from their symptoms. Allergies can cause skin to itch and swell, the nose to run and feel stuffed up, and eyes to be itchy, watery and very irritated. There is no known cure for allergies but there are a variety of types of medications available, both prescription and over-the-counter.

Allergy medication can take the form of antihistamines, decongestants, combination medicines, allergy shots, and corticosteroids. Antihistamines have been around for many years and come in the form of liquid, nasal spray, eye drops or pills. Nasal sprays can be used during hay fever season or for bothersome allergies all year long. Some examples of prescription antihistamines include Allegra, Clarinex and Zyrtec. Some examples of over-the-counter allergy medications of this kind include Benadryl, Claritin and Tavist.

Decongestants are especially useful allergy medication for getting rid of congestion and can be used in conjunction with antihistamines for optimum relief from symptoms. They can be purchased as eye drops or nasal spray and in pill or liquid form. Prescription decongestants include Claritin-D and Allegra-D while over-the-counter kinds include Sudafed liquid or tablets, Visine eye drops and Neo-Synephrine.

Combination medicines are two-in-one medications that contain both elements of an antihistamine as well as a decongestant. Together they work to rid the body of a number of different symptoms that occur all at once. There are also combination medicines that bring together asthma and allergy meds, as well as those that combine antihistamine eye drops with a mast cell stabilizer. Prescription forms include Naphcon, Zaditor, Vasocon and Semprex-D, while the over-the-counter kinds include Tylenol Allergy and Sinus, and Benadryl Allergy and Sinus.

Steroid medications, known as corticosteroids work to decrease inflammation as well as prevent and treat the sneezing, itchiness, and congestion related to nasal problems that allergies cause. Corticosteroids are also beneficial for swelling and inflammation that is related to other causes besides allergies.

Steroids are a form of allergy medication that is available in pill form, as a nasal spray, as a cream or as eye drops. Examples of nasal steroids include Flonase and Nasonex; examples of eye drops include Alrex and Dexamethasone while an example of an oral steroid is Deltasone (or prednisone). Inhaled steroids are only available with a doctor’s prescription. Some examples of these include Azmacort, Beclovent, Flovent and Pulmicort. Advair is another form that is a combination of a steroid and another type of drug to help relieve asthma symptoms.

Non-drowsy anti-allergy medicine introduced

A capsuled liquid gel for relieving worst allergy symptoms without causing drowsiness is now available over the counter.

“New CLARITIN(R) -Liqui-Gels(R) is the latest advancement for the 50 million Americans who suffer from allergies,” said John O’Mullane, group vice-president, research and development, - Schering-Plough Consumer Health Care.

Liquid-filled capsules are extremely popular with consumers. A recent survey found that 75 percent of consumers who use liquid-filled capsules prefer them over tablets, he said, according to a Schering release.

The medication is available without a prescription and treats allergy symptoms like itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and runny nose without drowsiness. It has been approved for adults and children aged six and older.

Source: Indo-Asian News Service

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