Do you have allergies? Well, if you do, I have some surprising news for you. Did you know that if you have allergies, you are less likely to get cancer?
A number of studies have shown that the overall chance of getting cancer is lower in people with allergies than it is in those poor unfortunate people who don’t have them.
Here’s how it works.
Cells are turning cancerous all the time. It’s a fact of life. Sure, the better your diet is, the less stress you have, and the less exposure you have to chemicals the less often that will happen. But even monks on mountains get cancer. The great majority of these cancerous cells are discovered and eliminated by what is called the TH-1 immune system. This system is constantly running immune surveillance in every nook and cranny of our bodies.
The reason that allergic people are less likely to get cancer is that their TH-1 system works overtime. That’s what causes their allergies. But it’s this same extra diligent TH-1 system that gives them extra protection against cancer.
The very first researchers who looked into this question reported on their findings way back in 1985. Since then, their findings have not been refuted. The researchers interviewed 13,665 men and women who had developed cancer and 4,079 other folks who did not have cancer.
When they sorted out the data, they discovered that there was “strong” statistical evidence that people “who had a history of hives and other allergy related diseases” had a decreased risk for cancer. In particular, there was a very significant decrease in the risk for oral and throat cancer, lung cancer, stomach and intestinal cancer, and bladder and kidney cancer. The women in the study reported less ovarian, uterine, and cervical cancers.
The conclusion of the researchers was: “These findings suggest that individuals with allergy related disorders may be at decreased risk of cancer.” Other studies have gotten more specific about the degree of risk reduction that allergies offer.
One study looked at 747 women younger than 45 who had invasive breast cancer and compared them to 958 healthy women. The women who were 35-45 years had a 23% less chance of getting breast cancer if they had allergies. But for the women younger than 35 years, having allergies did not help them. This is probably due to the fact that breast cancers occurring in younger women are often more aggressive.
The authors concluded, “Our results provide some evidence that a history of allergy may be associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer for women who develop breast cancer between 35 and 45 years of age.” If the results of this study don’t get you a little excited the next one will.
A 2004 Italian study looked at 598 men and women with cancer of the oral cavity and throat, 304 with cancer of the esophagus, 1,225 with cancer of the colon, 728 with cancer of the rectum, and 460 with cancer of the larynx. They compared them to 4,999 other people being admitted into the hospital at the same time who did not have cancer. The results were amazing.
Patients with allergies were 56% less likely to get cancer of oral cavity and pharynx, 20% less likely to get esophageal cancer, 24% less likely for colon cancer, 56% less likely for rectal cancer, and a whopping 67% less likely for cancer of the larynx. They found that the reduced risk stayed the same no matter what age, sex, or when they were diagnosed. They concluded, “The present study therefore provides further evidence for a possible protective effect of prior history of allergy on cancer risk.”
But all these studies just looked at solid cancers. What about blood cancers like leukemia? In one study, researchers looked at 98 men and women with adult acute myelocytic leukemia. They compared them to 133 men and women who did not have cancer and found that having a history of allergies of any kind decreased the chance of getting this form of leukemia by 65%. And the risk fell even further the greater the number of specific allergies that were reported. These authors went on to discuss how the reduced risks came from the greater TH-1 immune surveillance that people with allergies have.
There are plenty of other reports out there about allergies decreasing the risk of other cancers including pancreatic cancer and even brain cancer. But I think you get the idea. If you have allergies, you have them because your immune system is overactive. And, as you can see, that’s not an entirely bad thing. So the next time you reach for that tissue or look at the calendar and say, “Oh no, it’s that time again,” you can remind yourself that there is actually a silver lining behind that allergy cloud.
Fortunately, you don’t have to suffer from cancer or allergies. As I’ve told you in the past, I’ve had tremendous success treating allergies with nutrients like silymarin, bromelain, and astragalus. And I’ve shown you how to fight cancer in more predictable ways in past issues. You can find out more in articles posted on my website.
Bosetti, C., R. Talamini, et al. “Allergy and the risk of selected digestive and laryngeal neoplasms.” Eur J Cancer Prev. 2004 June;13(3):173-6.
Hedderson, M.M., K.E. Malone, et al. “Allergy and risk of breast cancer among young women (United States).” Cancer Causes Control. 2003 September;14(7):619-26.
Severson, R.K., S. Davis, et al. “Acute myelocytic leukemia and prior allergies.” J Clin Epidemiol. 1989;42(10):995-1001.
Vena, J.E., J.R. Bona, et al. “Allergy-related diseases and cancer: an inverse association.” Am J Epidemiol. 1985 July;122(1):66-74.