Allergies are, for any who have suffered the seasonal variety, a massive pest. Allergies bring itchy, watery eyes, constant sneezing and the frustration of having to swear up and down to everyone you come across that you are indeed neither contagious nor sick.
Allergies can also be life-threatening, to those who suffer serious ones such as peanut allergies. But a new study reveals that while allergies are wellspring of inconvenience for life for many sufferers, there also may be a protective benefit linked to the minor immune system-related annoyances.
Allergies are simply (or again, in potentially fatal allergies, not necessarily so simple) overreactions of the immune system — that is to say, your body recognizes a threat and responds protectively, even when no threat is present.
Definitely irritating, and the symptoms are a pain to deal with — but researchers in Norway have discovered what may be a silver lining for those with allergies, in the form of a significantly lower risk of brain cancer.
It turns out that that hyperactive immune system of yours, if you have allergies, may be working in other, useful ways to protect your body from true threats. In the past, doctors and scientists have noticed that tumors suppress the immune system, but the link was not understood entirely.
Now, according to MedicalDaily, the connection has been further unraveled, and scientists have a better idea of why allergies may lead to a decrease in brain tumor risk:
“Judith Schwartzbaum, associate professor of epidemiology at Ohio State University, and her team analyzed blood samples from 594 people who had been diagnosed with glioma, and 374 people who had the particularly common and lethal glioblastoma… Schwartzbaum and her colleagues found that women who had specific allergy-related antibodies in their systems were 50 percent less likely to develop glioblastoma.”
“For men, that difference was not as pronounced as for women. However, researchers did find that, for men with specific and unknown allergy-related antibodies, their risk was sliced by 20 percent.”
Compellingly, one of the largest risk factors for developing glioblastoma is absence of allergies.