Allergies boost immune system and may slash risk of cancer

by Elle Blakeman

Marie Claire Issues and Campaigns: Sneezing

Allergy sufferers can take comfort in the latest research findings, which reveal that suffering from allergies and hay fever actually boost the immune system warding off other more serious illnesses such as cancer.

Scientists found that asthma sufferers were 30% less likely to develop ovarian cancer than non-asthmatics.

They also found that children with allergies to airborne substances were 40% less likely to develop leukemia than other children.

It is thought that the adverse reactions caused by allergies stimulate the immune system, which actually strengthens it.

This helps to ward off other more serious illnesses including various types of cancer.

‘More work is still needed, but the numbers show that allergy is a statistically significant protective factor,' said Dr Zuber Mulla, an epidemiologist at Texas Tech University, who led the ovarian cancer study.

The findings are supported by several other studies, measuring the effect of allergies on preventing other illnesses.

Harvard epidemiologists observed a ‘strong inverse relationship' between brain cancer and asthma, eczema, hay fever or allergy, whilst Canadian studies have proved that having an allergy or hay fever lowered the chances of getting pancreatic cancer by up to 58%.

‘Allergies are a general activation of our immune systems,' said Dr Ronald Crystal, chief of pulmonary and critical-care medicine at Weill Cornell Medical Centre.

‘It's hard to prove, and I've heard some scepticism, but it's a concept in this field and the studies add to that.'

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