People With Allergies May Have Lower Risk of Brain Tumors

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New research adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that there’s a link between allergies and reduced risk of a serious type of cancer that starts in the brain. This study suggests the reduced risk is stronger among women than men, although men with certain allergy profiles also have a lower tumor risk.

The study also strengthens scientists’ belief that something about having allergies or a related factor lowers the risk for this cancer. Because these tumors, called glioma, have the potential to suppress the immune system to allow them to grow, researchers have never been sure whether allergies reduce cancer risk or if, before diagnosis, these tumors interfere with the hypersensitive immune response to allergens.

Seeing this association so long before tumor diagnosis suggests that antibodies or some aspect of allergy is reducing tumor risk.

“It could be that in allergic people, higher levels of circulating antibodies may stimulate the immune system, and that could lower the risk of glioma,” said Schwartzbaum, also an investigator in Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The current study also suggested that women whose blood samples tested positive for specific allergy antibodies had at least a 50 percent lower risk for the most serious and common type of these tumors, called glioblastoma. This effect for specific antibodies was not seen in men. However, men who tested positive for both specific antibodies and antibodies of unknown function had a 20 percent lower risk of this tumor than did men who tested negative.

Glioblastomas constitute up to 60 percent of adult tumors starting in the brain in the United States, affecting an estimated 3 in 100,000 people.

The researchers measured the blood samples for levels of two types of proteins called IgE, or immunoglobulin E. This is a class of antibodies produced by white blood cells that mediate immune responses to allergens. Two classes of IgE participate in the allergic response: allergen-specific IgE, which recognizes specific components of an allergen, and total IgE, which recognizes these components but also includes antibodies with unknown functions.

In each sample, the scientists determined whether the serum contained elevated levels of IgE specific to the most common allergens in Norway as well as total IgE. The specific respiratory allergens included dust mites; tree pollen and plants; cat, dog and horse dander; and mold.

For men and women combined, testing positive for elevated total IgE was linked to a 25 percent decreased risk of glioma compared with testing negative for total IgE.

This work was funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health and a Research Enhancement and Assistance Program grant from Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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Ask your smart phone to detect food allergens in your food.

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Researchers have developed a new device – called iTube – which is able to detect food allergens in food samples. This lightweight attachment to smart phones is recently the lighter, merely two ounces (less than 60 g), portable allergen testing device. The attachment analyzes the allergen concentration levels. The test is also known as colorimetric assay. The iTube platform can test for a variety of allergens, including peanuts, almonds, gluten, eggs, hazelnuts.

Food allergies affect 8 percent of children and 2 percent of adults. Food allergy can be severe, even life-threatening (anaphylaxis).  While laws regulate the labeling of ingredients in packaged foods, cross-contamination can still cause severe allergic reactions. Cross-contamination can occur during processing, manufacturing, and transportation. It is especially difficult to detect the presence of a special allergens in foods at dinner parties or in restaurants.

There are already allergy testing devices on the market but they are complex, bulky equipments, impractical for public settings.

iTube holds a lot of promises for future applications, according to the researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Henry Samuely  School of Engineering and Applied Science.

How does iTube work?

iTube along with a smartphone application that runs the test, uses the cell phone’s built-in camera to convert images into concentration measurements detected in food samples. The test demonstrates the amount of the allergens with the same high level of sensitivity a laboratory would. The results show exactly how many parts per million allergens from e.g. eggs, peanuts, gluten, nuts are in the sample. The test however takes a little while: about 20 minutes to get the results, and the food requires some preparation. The food sample initially needs to be ground up and mixed with hot water and a solvent. After the sample has set for a few minutes, it is mixed in a step-by-step procedure with a series of reactive testing liquids. After about this 20 minute preparation the sample is ready to be measured for allergen concentration through the cell phone’s camera and iTube app. The iTube not only shows whether an allergen is present in the sample but also gives the concentration in parts per million of the allergen.

The UCLA team successfully tested the iTube on different packages of cookies. The results  determined if they had any harmful amounts of peanuts in the sample. Their research was recently published online in the peer-reviewed journal Lab on a Chip.

“We envision that this cell phone-based allergen testing platform could be very valuable, especially for parents, as well as for schools, restaurants, and other public settings,” says Aydogan Ozcan, leader of the research team and a UCLA associate professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering.

The results of the tests can be tagged with time and location as well as can be uploaded directly from the smart phone to the iTube server which could provide  information for other allergy-sufferers around the world. A statistical database of different allergies linked to geographic areas could be useful for future determination of food-related polices researchers said.

Another team of researchers from  Purde University have also processed a new application for travelers suffering from allergies to obtain instant (0.09 seconds) allergen results from food samples without any Internet connection or server. This device is not available yet.

 

Cold Allergy, Allergy, and Cold. What Makes Them Different?

100_6641It seems that many people in the world are affected by cold and allergy. During the mornings or evenings, you tend to have sneezing along with a blocked nose. You may not know whether you are suffering from an ordinary cold or from an allergy. This is when you need to differentiate between a common cold and an allergy. The symptoms can be very similar, but they are completely different afflictions, so their treatments are also different.

Symptoms and treatments 

Common symptoms might include cough, fatigue, sneezing, sore throat, running nose, stuffy nose. Usually aches, pain, fever, and thick yellow/greenish nasal discharge aren’t an indication of allergies just as itchy eyes don’t indicate a cold.

· Colds are caused by viruses. Their treatments are usually rest, pain relievers, decongestants, over-the-counter medications.

· Allergies are immune system responses triggered by one or more specific allergen. The best things you can do is to avoid the exposure to allergens if possible.  Treatments of  seasonal allergies are antihistamines (prescription or over-the-counter), decongestants, nasal steroid sprays.

What is cold allergy ?

Cold allergy, Cold Urticaria or cold hives is an allergy. This kind of allergy affects the skin, causing hives (urticaria) or red welts to form on the skin due to the exposure to a cold stimulus. The hives are usually itchy. Most often they show up on the hands and feet where they can cause swelling as well. When hives form, the fluid from the capillaries flows out into the surrounding tissues causing them to swell up. Hives come in different sizes. If the disease becomes chronic the hives can last for weeks. The Cold Urticaria can be inherited or caught.

What are the symptoms of Cold Urticaria?

When the body is exposed to the cold, hives occur on the skin on the affected area. Hives usually last from a few minutes to a few days. You usually get an irritating, burning sensation through your skin as if bees are stinging you. Severe reaction, when the hives form very fast, usually within less than 3 minutes of exposure, can be life-threatening (anaphylactic shock).

How to diagnose Cold allergy?

The allergist performs a cold test. During the procedure a piece of ice is held against the forearm usually for 2-3 minutes. The result is positive if red hives are raised on the contacted area.

How to Treat Cold Hives

The most important treatment is to stay warm. To control the condition, you should avoid exposure to cold temperatures or warm up immediately after the exposure. Hot water on the affected area or a warmer environment does not improve the condition, but helps prevent it from worsening. If the hives already formed, the warming up afterwards may cause the hives to go away faster.

According to some home remedies some vegetable shortening or butter applied on the affected area may reduce the risk of eruption of the hives. Good idea here would be to reduce the inflammation in your body. Usually, the doctors prescribe Antihistamines. Topical antihistamine creams may also provide some temporary relief.

Some studies suggest that Cold Urticaria has been linked to a gluten intolerance and gluten free diets have helped some Cold Urticaria sufferers. Hives formation is also assumed to be due to food allergies, asthma, environmental changes, and eczema.

The causes of hives are still under investigation.