People With Allergies May Have Lower Risk of Brain Tumors

Logo of the United States National Cancer Inst...

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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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.

Danger of “antibacterial”

Bio-Tag - Triclosan

An antibacterial chemical, called Triclosan, found in toothpaste and other personal care products may increase the risk of allergy development in children. Triclosan has been used since 1972, but was recently associated with allergies in children.

What is Triclosan?
Triclosan is an antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral agent. Triclosan has been in use for decades in a variety of common household products, including soaps, deodorants, toothpastes, mouthwashes, dish detergents, hand sanitizers, cleaning supplies, and toys. It is also a component in some pesticides, mattresses, insulation and underlayments used under flooring such as laminate, wood, carpeting in order to stop the growth of bacteria, fungi, and mildew. In the United States, manufacturers of products containing triclosan must indicate it on the label.

How can Triclosan affect our health?
Triclosan can change the bacterial flora in the mouth, on the skin and in the intestines. The change in the delicate balance between beneficial and “bad” bacteria in the body can lead to immune system dysregulation, causing an increased risk of developing allergies (hygiene hypothesis). The researchers found link between the growing incidence of allergies and the increased use of products containing triclosan. The study does not demonstrate that the antibacterial chemicals themselves cause the allergies but instead suggest that they play a significant role in immune system development. Several studies have shown that triclosan may alter hormone regulation in laboratory animals or cause antibiotic resistance.
According to the FDA, triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans, but a number of scientific studies emphasize the need to review the manufacturer’s guidelines on the use of this chemical in consumer products.

About the study
Researchers have found that children with high urinary levels of triclosan have a twofold higher risk of environmental and food allergies. The higher urinary levels of the chemical were associated with increased levels of Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody, which is elevated in the blood of people with allergies. According to the study the probability of food and aeroallergen (especially rhinitis) sensitization is significantly higher with increased exposure to triclosan.
Comparison of the Norwegian and U.S. summary of the studies show approximately 50 per cent of the Norwegian children had detectable levels of triclosan in their urine, while 80 per cent of American children had measurable levels. Children from both groups had approximately the same amount of triclosan exposure.
The triclosan study is a collaboration between the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo University Hospital and the National Institute of Health Sciences (NIEHS) in the U.S. The study was published online on November 2012 in Allergy, the official journal of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

What is the problem with Triclosan?
Triclosan is linked to inhalation and liver toxicity. Low levels of triclosan may disrupt thyroid function. Due to the uncompleted waste water treatment, the chemical, which is very toxic to aquatic life, ends up in our lakes, rivers and water sources.

How to avoid Triclosan?
There is no evidence that household use of antibacterial products provides benefits over plain soap and water, and the American Medical Association recommends that triclosan not be used in the home, as it may encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

Watch the label for triclosan (and triclocarban) in personal care products. Read ingredient labels carefully.

Avoid “antibacterial” products.  Triclosan is used in everyday personal care products like toothbrushes, toys, plastic containers, and cutting boards that may be labeled “antibacterial,” or make claims such as “odor-fighting” or “keeps food fresher, longer”.              

Use simple detergents and soaps with short ingredient lists and avoid antibacterial products with triclosan for home use.

Triclosan can be found in these products: soap and dishwashing liquid, towels, mattresses sponges, personal care products, shower curtains, toothbrushes, phones, kitchenware, and plastic food containers, shoes, flooring, and carpets, cutting boards, clothing, fabrics, and toys.

References:

http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/REDs/factsheets/triclosan_fs.htm

http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(11)02347-5/fulltext

What You Need to Know About Anaphylaxis

English: At sea aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt ...

Anaphylaxis is considered as the worst type of allergic reaction. If anaphylaxis isn’t treated right away, it can lead to unconsciousness or even death. Allergic reaction is when the immune system mistakenly responds to an allergen and creates an immune response against it. The immune system recognize the allergen as a foreign substance and the body produces antibodies, and release histamine which is responsible for the allergic symptoms.

What is Anaphylaxis?

This condition is a generalized allergic reaction that usually involves two or more body systems such as respiratory, skin, cardiovascular, gastro-intestinal, and central nervous systems.   In most cases, anaphylaxis develops quickly and can take only one to two minutes for a mild allergic reaction to escalate to anaphylaxis. Symptoms: The blood pressure drops suddenly, the airways narrow, blocking the normal breathing. Rapid, weak pulse, skin rash, nausea, and vomiting.

Facts About the Reported Cases for Anaphylaxis

The incidence of anaphylaxis is approximately 50 to 2,000 per 100,000 persons per year. Rates appear to be increasing. The incidence in 1980’s was approximately 20 per 100,000 per year, while in the 1990’s it was 50 per 100,000 per year.

Anaphylaxis causes approximately 1500 deaths in the U.S. annually. A majority of anaphylaxis victims have pre-existing allergies. The risk is higher in young people and females. The food-included anaphylaxis showed the highest increase. The cause of anaphylaxis is unidentified in one-third to two-thirds of patients.

Importance of Carrying and Using Epinephrine

Studies of fatal anaphylactic reactions to food have found that most of the episodes occurred away from home, and most of the victims did not have epinephrine with them. Usually the faster the onset of an anaphylactic reaction, the greater the likelihood that it will be severe.

What are the different Causes of Anaphylaxis?

There are several factors that can trigger this life-threatening condition. The following are the various causes of anaphylaxis:

  • Food  –  Eight foods account for 90% of all food-allergic reactions. They are milk, peanut, tree nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy. The fact is that almost any kinds of food can trigger the condition to occur. It is necessary to remember that even a small amount or even the smell of these foods could make you suffer from this condition. Approximately 12 million Americans have food allergies. An estimated 150 people die annually from anaphylaxis due to food allergy. Peanut and/or tree nut (e.g. Walnut) allergy affects about three million Americans, or 1.1% of the population.
  • Insect stings and bites – Wasp, bee, and jack jumper ant stings are also known to be the most common causes of anaphylaxis. Other insects like green ants, fire ants and ticks could also trigger this harmful condition. After the first stings, your body produces antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). If stung again, the venom interacts with this specific IgE antibody, triggering the release of substances that cause an allergic reaction. An estimated 5% of the U.S. population ( 15 million Americans)are allergic to insect venom. There are at least 40 deaths per year due to the venom.
  • Drugs – There are some medicines that can trigger anaphylaxis.  The most common drug associated with allergies is penicillin. Other drugs commonly found to cause reactions include insulin, barbiturates, sulfa drugs, anticonvulsants, iodine (Contrast agents for radiology procedures often contain iodine).  0.7 to 10% , as many as 30 million people are allergic to penicillin. There are about 400 deaths due to penicillin anaphylaxis yearly.
  • Other substances, chemicals:  Latex. Up to 3 to 18 million people are allergic to latex in the U.S. There are about 220 cases of anaphylaxis and 3 deaths per year due to latex allergy.

What to Do if You Have Anaphylaxis?

If you or one of your loved ones is suffering from this condition, it is a must to go to the nearest hospital immediately to prevent complications. There are different medicines that can treat this condition:

  • Epinephrine: This is the most common drug that is given to patients with anaphylaxis. This medicine is offered in the form of self-injectable devices which you can buy upon receiving the prescription of your doctor.
  • Antihistamine and steroids are also used to alleviate the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis.

What to Do to Prevent Anaphylaxis?

If you suffered from the particular condition before, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) suggests the following to lower your risk for anaphylaxis:

  • You should wear your medical bracelet with a list of triggers.
  • Avoid those things that can cause allergic reaction.
  • Find out what you can do if you come in contact with causative factors. Call your physician to learn what you should do to prevent an allergic reaction.
  • Teach your loved ones how they can help you if you have this condition.

What is Medical Bracelet?

It’s commonly said that a medical alert bracelet speaks for you when you are unable to speak for yourself.
Medical ID bracelets are designed to provide with information about your specific medical or allergic condition, or medication you’re taking in the event of an emergency at the point in time when they’re about to administer emergency treatment. It’s recommended  by some medical personnel that everyone with a severe allergy or medical  condition should wear a medical bracelet.

If you experience severe symptoms, call your doctor or 911 immediately, or go to the nearest emergency room.

Always remember that it is better to prevent a disease instead of curing it.

Are You Aware of Latex Allergy ?

Extraction of latex from a tree, for use in ru...

                                              

In a latex allergy, the immune system identifies latex as a harmful substance. Latex, also known as rubber or natural latex is derived from the milky fluid of the rubber tree, found in Africa and Southeast Asia. The latex original role is in the tree to heal the cuts in the surface of the plant.

Latex, after extracted is treated with ammonia which is a basic ingredient in making gloves, condoms, rubber bands, balloons, erasers and toys.

In anEnglish: Photomodel MissLatex wearing rubber /...other method, the acid-coagulated latex is used as crumb rubber and to form dry sheets. The latex is “vulcanized” by adding sulfur at extremely high temperature for a prolonged time to get low-to-undetectable levels of allergenic proteins. These are called the non-allergenic products.

Latex allergy may cause an allergic reactions ranging from sneezing or a runny nose to anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition. The problem is not with the rubber itself, but a contaminating protein in the rubber. Your doctor may determine if you have a latex allergy or if  you are  at risk of developing a latex allergy.

There are three types of latex allergy reactions:

  • Irritant contact dermatitis      (non-allergen contact dermatitis) It is a non-allergic hypersensitivity and it is the most common clinical reaction to latex products.  Repeated exposure of this allergen often leads to latex allergy.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis: A delayed reaction to additives used in latex processing. The reactions are similar to contact dermatitis      (dryness, itching, burning, scaling, and lesions of the skin) but they are more severe and tend to spread to more parts of the body, and lasts      longer.
  • Latex Protein Allergy (latex hypersensitivity) is an immediate allergic reaction. This is the most serious reaction to latex. Symptoms can show up as urticaria, hay fiver,      rhinitis. This allergic reactions to latex sometimes may progress  life-threatening conditions such as low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, tremors, chest pain, anaphylactic shock.  If left untreated, these conditions could potentially result in death.

LatEnglish: A PVC-Glove Deutsch: Ein Latexhandsch...ex allergy is more prevalent and found in healthcare professionals due to the increased use of latex gloves. Wearing gloves gives the health care professional more immunity and  protects against further  transmission of infectious diseases (such as HIV, Hepatitis B). About 5% to 10% of health care workers have some form of allergy to latex. Rubber gloves are the main source of allergic reactions, although hundreds of these products contain latex:

  • medical devices (gloves, catheters, blood pressure cuffs, tourniquets, bandages)
  • dental items (dams and orthodontic rubber bands)
  • children’s items (toys, bottle nipples, pacifiers and teething toys);
  • clothing (the elastic waistbands in pants and underwear);
  • household items (rugs, bathmats and rubber gloves);
  • personal care items (diapers and condoms);
  • office and school supplies (rubber bands, erasers, paint).

Not all brands or all items contain latex. Check labels carefully or contact the manufacturer for further questions.

People with higher risk for developing latex allergy are:

  • Health care workers and others who frequently wear latex gloves
  • People who have had multiple surgeries, such as children with spina bifida
  • People who are often exposed to natural rubber latex, including rubber industry workers

Latex allergy can exposure to:

  • inhalation of powder particles. Cornstarch is sometimes used on the inside of gloves to make them easier to put on and remove. The cornstarch absorbs latex proteins, but when the gloves are snapped during application or removal, the latex-laden particles fly into the air.
  • absorption through the skin can occur when latex gloves are worn. (by trauma, irritation, or contact dermatitis),
  • absorption through mucous membranes (from condoms, or internal examinations with latex gloves, through eyes, mouth, rectum)
  • direct entry into the body (e.g. during surgical procedure when healthcare professionals wearing latex gloves.

Manufacturers produce two types of products from natural latex sources:

  • Hardened rubber. This type of latex is found in products such as athletic shoes, tires and rubber balls. Hardened rubber doesn’t cause allergies in most people.
  • Dipped latex. There are the stretchy products, such as rubber gloves, balloons and condoms. Most allergic reactions to latex occur with products made of dipped latex because they’re often used directly on the skin.

Other rubber: Rarely, some people who are sensitive to latex also may react to other rubber products, including erasers, rubber toy parts, rubber bands, rubber in medical devices and rubber in the elastic in clothing.

Not all latex products are made from natural sources. Products containing man-made (synthetic) latex, such as latex paint, are unlikely to cause a reaction because they don’t contain the natural substance. Some waterproof sealants may contain natural rubber latex. Be sure to read the label before using them.

What is a cross reaction?

People who have a latex allergy may be allergic to some foods, as well (such as avocados banana, kiwi, chestnut), This is called a cross reaction. When this happens, your body responds with the same allergic symptoms that you would have if you were exposed to latex. Cross reactions differ from one person to another.

How can latex allergy be prevented?

Where possible, latex gloves should be replaced with non-latex gloves, although latex gloves remain the best barrier against infectious organisms.

Latex gloves should be powder free and contain a low protein content.
If you have latex allergy you should avoid direct contact with all products and devices that contain latex. Also avoid food that causes an allergic reaction. Latex allergy problems during dental, medical or surgical procedures can be prevented by warning health care providers about latex allergy before any test or treatment. Latex allergic people can receive medical or dental care in a latex-safe area. Hospitals and clinics that use only low protein latex gloves and non-latex gloves have experienced dramatic declines in new cases of latex allergy.

Sources:

www.AAAAI.org

www.cdc.gov

www.wikipedia.com

Do You Get Enough Vitamin D?

Vitamin "D"

Vitamin “D”

Allergic diseases of almost all types have become much more common over the past few decades. Some experts link allergy diseases to vitamin D deficiency, which is extremely common today. Low levels of vitamin D have also been associated with osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes and cancer.

Vitamin D appears to serves multiple important functions for the immune system. It acts to stimulate the immune system against various infections, may prevent diseases, controls cancer cells groth, regulates the blood pressure hormon, as well as prevent autoimmune diseases.

Recent studies suggest that vitamin D plays an important role in the prevention of various allergic diseases, by activating certain regulatory immune cells that prevent the release of chemicals (such as histamin) which cause and worsen allergic diseases.

Vitamin D is critically important for the maintenance of calcium metabolism. Calcium is required for every cells of our body to function in a healthy way. It is one of the most vital mineral in our body. Calcium is needed for strong bones, it used by nerves and muscles, and it also needs to proper blood clotting.

Unlike other vitamins, vitamin D can be made in our bodies as a result of exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is an important nutrient and hormone. Most of it’s natural sources are animal-based, including oily fish, cod liver oil, egg yolks, cheese, fortified milk, and beef liver, mushrooms. For this reason, those, who follow a strict vegetarian diet have to pay more attention to get the recommended levels of the vitamin D over time.

It has been estimated that the body requires daily 3000-5000 IU of vitamin D. Healthy blood level of 25(OH)D is between 80-100 nmol/L. Dietary sources and vitamin D supplements can satisfy this requirements. Multivitamins typically contain 400 IU of vitamin D. Several manufacturers provide 1000 IU.

There can be a wide variation in the vitamin D content of the natural sources (e.g., farmed versus wild salmon). Cooking methods (e.g., frying versus baking) can also deplete the amount of vitamin D in foods. Therefore, most of the vitamin D that we consume comes from fortified foods (in the United States, some dairy products and breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin D) and from supplements.

Vitamin D has been linked to immune system and lung development in fetus, and epidemiologic studies show that higher vitamin D intake by pregnant mothers reduces asthma risk by as much as 40% in children 3 to 5 years old. Providing adequate vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy may lead to significant decreases in asthma incidence in young children.

The findings, which are published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, suggest that increased exposure to sunlight could help to reduce children’s chances of developing food allergies and eczema. The finding suggests new ways to interact with the immune system.

We spend less time in the sun today than in any time before in the history. This is the reason why more than 1 billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency.

Sunlight is the best and only natural source of vitamin D. Unlike dietary or supplementary vitamin D, when you get your ‘D’ from sunshine        your body takes what it needs. Vitamin D experts and many health groups now advocate 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily which is five to ten times the old recommendations.

Nobody really knows for sure how much supplementary vitamin D is safe.

Vitamin D might be best obtained by getting a reasonable amount of sun exposure, such as 15 minutes a day between 10 AM and 3 PM as suggested by some experts. After this limited exposure should you apply a broad sprectum sunscreen.

So get outside and enjoy some sunshine on a regular basis. But like anything else, moderation is key so don’t overdo it.

Related articles

Sources:


Cleanliness may cause allergy

Allergies have become widespread in developed countries. The reason?  Excessive cleanliness is to blame,” said Dr. Guy Delespesse, an immunologist and director of the Allergy Research Laboratory at the University of Montreal. While family history, air pollution, processed foods, stress and other factors can trigger allergic reactions, Dr. Delespesse is concerned by “our limited exposure to bacteria” .

The idea that too-clean environments contribute to allergies is called the “hygiene hypothesis.”

The study suggest that exposure to germs and infection helps build the immune system, which can protect against allergies and asthma. The explanation is simple: we are so hygienic we aren’t being exposed to the same level or variety of bacteria as in the past, so our immune systems are unable to build up defences.

There is an inverse relationship between the level of hygiene and the incidence of allergies and autoimmune diseases,” said Dr. Delespesse. “The more sterile the environment a child lives in, the higher the risk he or she will develop allergies or an immune problem in their lifetime. Some 50 million Americans suffer from allergic conditions and about 15 million Americans have asthma, and the numbers are increasing, according to the AmericanAcademy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The cost of treating allergies and asthma stands at about $32 billion a year. And there is much misery: 60 percent of allergy sufferers say they were unable to find ways to stamp out the seasonal ills, according to a survey released this week by ConsumerReportsNationalResearchCenter. Dr. Delespesse also frets about the burgeoning allergic population. He noted that 10 percent of people in developed countries suffered from allergies two decades ago. Today, the percentage has increased threefold to 30 percent, with one in 10 children suffering from asthma. Deaths from that condition are also increasing, he said.

Allergies rose rapidly in developing nations where living conditions and hygiene standards were becoming more like those in the West.

Cleanliness does reduce our exposure to harmful bacteria. As the human immune system matures, normally it learns how to differentiate what is not dangerous from what is dangerous. If you raise children in too clean of an environment, this distinction is missing.” If infants encounter a wide range of bacteria they are less at risk of developing allergic disease later in life. This is the conclusion of research from the University of Copenhagen, which suggests completely new factors in many modern lifestyle diseases.

“In our study of over 400 children we observed a direct link between the number of different bacteria in their rectums and the risk of development of allergic disease later in life,” says professor Hans Bisgaard, consultant at Gentofte Hospital, head of the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood, and professor of children’s diseases at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

Reduced diversity of the intestinal microbiote during infancy was associated with increased risk of allergic disease at school age. But if there was considerable diversity, the risk was reduced, and the greater the variation, the lower the risk. When the immune system not constantly battling dangerous bacteria, “it doesn’t know what to fight against,”

“So it makes a difference if the baby is born vaginally, encountering the first bacteria from its mother’s rectum, or by caesarean section, which exposes the new-born baby to a completely different, reduced variety of bacteria. This may be why far more children born by caesarean section develop allergies.” said Professor Bisgaard.

In the womb and during the first six months of life, the mother’s immune defenses protect the infant. Bacteria flora in infants are therefore probably affected by any antibiotics the mother has taken and any artificial substances she has been exposed to.

“We have studied staphylococci and coli bacteria thoroughly, and there is no relation. What matters is to encounter a large number of different bacteria early in life when the immune system is developing and ‘learning’. The window during which the infant is immunologically immature and can be influenced by bacteria is brief, and closes a few months after birth.

“I must emphasize that there is not one single allergy bacteria,” Professor Bisgaard points out. “I think that a mechanism that affects the immune system will affect more than just allergies, he concludes. It would surprise me if diseases such as obesity and diabetes are not also laid down very early in life and depend on how our immune defenses are primed by encountering the bacterial cultures surrounding us.”

Definition of allergy

                                                                                                                     

Allergies are among the most common of medical disorders.  It is estimated that 60 million Americans, or more than one in every five
people, suffer from some form of allergy.

An allergy is a hypersensitivy disorder of the immune system.

How do you get allergies? Scientists think both genes and the environment have something to do with it.  Normally, your immune system fights germs. It is your body’s defense system. In most allergic reactions, however, it is responding to a false alarm.

Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance such as pollen, bee venom or pet dander.  A substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid.

Your immune system produces substances known as antibodies. Some of these antibodies protect you from unwanted invaders that could make you sick or cause an infection. When you have allergies, your immune system makes antibodies that identify your particular allergen as something harmful, even though it isn’t. When you come into contact with the allergen, your immune system’s reaction inflames your skin, sinuses, airways or digestive system.

The severity of allergies varies from person to person and can range from minor irritation to anaphylaxis — a potentially life-threatening emergency. While allergies can’t be cured, a number of treatments can help relieve your allergy symptoms.

Mild allergies like hay fever are very common in the human population, and cause symptoms, such as red eyes, itchiness, and runny nose, eczema, hives, or an asthma attack. In some people, severe allergies to environmental or dietary allergens or to medication may result in life-threatening reactions called anaphylaxis. Food allergies, and reactions to the venom of stinging insects are often associated with these severe reactions.

A variety of tests exist to diagnose allergic conditions. These include placing possible allergens on the skin and looking for a reaction such as swelling. Blood tests can also be done to look for an allergen-specific IgE.

Treatments for allergies include avoiding known allergens, use of medications such as anti-histamines that specifically prevent allergic reactions, steroids that modify the immune system in general, and medications such as decongestants that reduce the symptoms. Many of these medications are taken by mouth, though epinephrine, which is used to treat anaphylactic reactions, is injected. Immunotherapy uses injected allergens to desensitize the body’s response.

Allergic diseases are more common in industrialized countries than in agricultural countries , and there is a higher rate of allergic disease in urban populations versus rural populations.

People With Allergies May Have Lower Risk of Brain Tumors

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.