In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Day, we decided to explore the connection between allergies and cancer. Although breast cancer is more common in females, it’s important to remember that it can occur in males. The importance of regular breast checks, as well as good lifestyle choices, cannot be underestimated. Please do your bit to protect and take care of your health. For information about preventing cancer, please click here. Remember, early detection of any cancer significantly increase the chance of survival and positive prognosis!
There has been much hype in the past 30 years regarding a possible connection between allergies and cancer. At the same time, it is understandable that for someone with food or environmental allergies, exploring this connection would be of interest. However, it would be wise to stop and think in more practical terms. Is there a benefit in knowing? As anyone with an allergy would tell you- life is stressful enough. No more extras are needed. Below we will list the studies that show a positive correlation- for the others (and unfortunately, there are those too)- google it! Some studies showed a correlation between various types of cancer and different allergies. For example, some reports showed a higher occurrence of atopic dermatitis and allergic rhinitis among individuals with breast cancer compared to the control groups- however, the majority of reports face controversy regarding a connection for patience with a history of food and drug allergies.
Researches hypothesis that allergies could potentially protect the body against cancer development. When the body is in a hypersensitive state (such as an allergy), the immune system is better able to detect and eliminate malignant cells. “In immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated allergies, high level of IgE could bind to the tumor-specific antigens and facilitate the antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis mechanisms.”
There is a basis to this theory in layman's terms- allergies affect the immune system, which is our body’s self-defense system. Our immune system contains special cells which protect us from many foreign and dangerous infections and the like. A person with allergies has overactive and sensitive, treating normally harmless elements as dangerous particles that the bodies need to be protected from. This causes allergy symptoms. When it comes to cancer, often the case is that the immune system under reacts and does the exact opposite. When a person has allergies, their immune system is already high alert and possibly sensitive to dangers such as cancer. Scientists have made some attempts to prove this hypothesis, but the results are still somewhat sketchy.
1992- Researchers in the American Journal of Epidemiology found females with drug allergies had a 21% decreased risk of cancer. It also showed a history of allergies decreased the risk of ovarian cancer
2005 – Researches in the journey of Cancer research suggested that allergies and asthma reduce the risk of brain cancer
2005- Researches in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggested that a person with allergies may have some protection against cancer in general. However, the results were inconsistent, and the strength of the evidence was limited. The study also found a significantly lowered risk of cancer mortality and patients with a history of both asthma and hay fever.
2008- Researches for the National Institute of Health found that the cases where the chance of cancer was the lowest for people with allergies were with cancers of “tissues that interface with the external environment.”
2013- Researchers in the American Journal of Epidemiology looked at the allergy/cancer connection finding reduced risk for pancreatic cancer among the most consistent findings. The study showed a 30% reduced risk for patients with allergies and a 45% risk for those with respiratory allergies.
2019- A study reported that results are still classified as inconclusive and more research is required.
In conclusion, while it’s possible that having allergies may offer someone some protection- the connection between allergies and cancer is complicated, and further research is necessary. The most important thing is knowing and looking out for the signs and seeing your doctor for any changes you notice. Days like Breast Cancer Awareness Day are critical in spreading knowledge and educating the public. Breast cancer death rates have decreased by 40% in recent years! Let’s keep that number going down……
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