home
RSS
Do allergies actually benefit your health?
April 25th, 2012
01:00 PM ET

Do allergies actually benefit your health?

Depending on severity, allergies can range from annoying to deadly. Millions of Americans are familiar with the sneezing, itching and coughing that come along with spring allergies to toxins, while others suffer hives or even airway blockage if they eat the wrong food.

And we know that food allergies are on the rise, partly because of awareness but experts say something else may be going on. It’s a mystery why industrial countries see more and more children having reactions to common foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, eggs, milk, wheat or soy.

But there’s a deeper question to ask here: Why do humans have allergies at all?

One view is that the immune response seen in allergies is the same sort of defense your body uses against parasitic worms. It’s thought that what we know as “allergy” evolved against those worms, but has become mistargeted in some people, so that common substances such as pollen and dust set them off, too.

However, common environmental and food allergens have little in common with parasitic worms. There’s an explanation for why the immune system would respond to something that's not microbial, says Ruslan Medzhitov, professor of immunobiology at Yale School of Medicine.

In a perspective article in the journal Nature, Medzhitov and colleagues probe the question: Is there another explanation for allergies? They argue that, in fact, allergies are meant to remove harmful substances from the body.

For the case of seasonal allergies to tree or grass pollen, symptoms typically include runny nose, teary eyes and extra mucus production in the respiratory system. All of these things have the effect of trying to expel something from your body that you don’t want there.

Similarly, when you have itchy skin in contact allergies, the impulse is to scratch, which has the effect of removing offending particles in the skin. But sometimes it becomes extreme: Uncontrollable itching that’s chronic, which is no longer serve the purpose of taking offending substances off the skin.

Food allergy symptoms often include vomiting and diarrhea, which also expel unwanted substances. Anaphylactic shock, the most severe and deadly reaction, involves swelling of the mouth or throat and even breathing problems. Medzhitov explains this as an extreme form of the normal allergic reaction; it has gone out of control and may cause death in and of itself, the way that septic shock is an extreme form of natural inflammation.

Experimental treatment may help food allergies

“There are things that are meant to perform some beneficial rational function; if they get disregulated, it can cause problem,” Medzhitov said.

The unpleasant experiences also make you stop eating the food that caused the reaction, and avoid that food in the future.

But wait: Plenty of people eat peanuts and other common food allergens without incident. Why do some people have extreme reactions and others enjoy these foods in peace?

Medzhitov points out that there are certain components of the foods we eat everyday whose effects on the body we still don’t exactly know. There may be certain chemicals in some foods that have noxious effects on our cells that are slightly toxic.

He hypothesizes that some people are better at detoxifying those substances than others. And those who are deficient in those detoxifying mechanisms have instead allergies to defend themselves.

And then there’s allergies to pollutants in the air. The production of mucus in allergic people, theoretically, gives them increased protection from the particulate pollutants in the air, since they will inhale less of them. That would mean that if those pollutants are carcinogenic, the allergic person would have increased protection against certain forms of cancer over time. Or you might avoid that environment altogether, thereby also taking you out of a toxic situation.

The hypothesis that allergies protect against particular cancers does have some evidence backing it up. In fact, a 2011 study suggested that allergies may stave off gliomas, which are the most common form of brain tumor. But more research needs to be carried out to back up this idea.

So what are we to make of all of this? Even if true, we can't use this knowledge to help people with allergies - yet.  But maybe one day, says Dr. Robert Wood, Director of Allergy/Immunology at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, who was not involved in this study.

"“This is a fascinating paper that sheds new light on why some people develop allergies and others do not. It also suggests reasons why the prevalence of allergic disease, including food allergy, asthma, and hay fever, have all increased over the past 20-30 years," Wood said. "Hopefully the theories presented here could eventually be used to design prevention strategies for allergy, but at the present time they remain just theories that will not lead to any immediate approaches to treat or prevent allergy.”


soundoff (954 Responses)
  1. RV Upgrades Los Angeles

    https://surveys.montclair.edu/survey/preview.jsp?surveyid=1326825217719&url=https://ocrv.rocks/rv-repair-shop-menifee-california

    May 21, 2021 at 07:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. fXnxKOltgq

    help to write a business plan essay writing company dbq thesis statement help best dissertation help

    May 21, 2021 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RV Toilets Orange County

    This is a good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise information… Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read article!

    /

    May 21, 2021 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Fiberglass Orange County

    /

    May 21, 2021 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RV Mechanics Near Me

    /

    May 21, 2021 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. rv slide out repair

    http://www.chaosns.com/link.php?url=https://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-pomona-california/

    May 21, 2021 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. rv supplies orange county

    http://www.dir.tetsumania.net/search/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=3267&url=https://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-montclair-california

    May 21, 2021 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Beds Orange County

    &count=1&ie=1

    May 21, 2021 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Social Media Marketing Market

    http://www.shopflashbackgames.com/trigger.php?r_link=http://www.affordableranking.com

    May 21, 2021 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RebfZisse

    levitra or cialis which is better http://rcialisgl.com/ gum cialis

    May 21, 2021 at 19:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. safeco windshield repair

    You have made some really good points there. I checked on the net to find out more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.

    http://vanpeople.com/space/link.php?url=http://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-costa-mesa-california

    May 21, 2021 at 21:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Digital Marketing Consultant Near Me

    https://www.thongtachanoi.net/301.php?url=https://www.affordableranking.com

    May 21, 2021 at 22:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. remodel near me

    http://www.bshare.cn/share?url=http://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-west-hollywood-california

    May 22, 2021 at 01:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Social Media Marketing Businesses Near Me

    http://www.cifrasonline.com.ar/ads/server/www/delivery/ck.php?ct=1&oaparams=2__bannerid=77__zoneid=51__cb=1e1e869346__oadest=http://www.affordableranking.com/

    May 22, 2021 at 03:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Wraps California

    Your style is very unique in comparison to other people I've read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this web site.

    &_ltra=dab4d1d3b7718c2c9e91a686f3ff7361.ltra.1613.12

    May 22, 2021 at 04:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. window repair orange county

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this post and the rest of the website is very good.

    https://www.volkshilfe-salzburg.mobile-websites.at/?task=get&url=https://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-rialto-california

    May 22, 2021 at 07:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Digital Marketing Consultants

    I could not resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!

    https://www.amisduchateau.ca/infolettre/compteurLiens.php?p=104&url=http://affordableranking.com

    May 22, 2021 at 07:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Google Marketing Specialists

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It's always useful to read through articles from other writers and use a little something from their web sites.

    https://levelfourconsulting.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.affordableranking.com

    May 22, 2021 at 07:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. camping trailer repair near me

    A motivating discussion is worth comment. I believe that you ought to write more on this subject matter, it might not be a taboo subject but typically people don't talk about these subjects. To the next! Many thanks!!

    https://www.city.iwanuma.miyagi.jp/_wcv/php/sclick/sclick.php?UID=Onoya&URL=http://ocrvcenter.com/citystar-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    May 22, 2021 at 15:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Upholstery California

    https://www.smartsupp.com/affiliate/click?id=1124&url=https://www.ocrv.me/rv-repair-shop-warner-center-california

    May 23, 2021 at 03:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. oc trailers

    https://sessionize.com/redirect/8gu64kFnKkCZh90oWYgY4A/?url=http://ocrvcenter.com/rv-toilet-repair-near-me

    May 23, 2021 at 04:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. rv repair near me now

    I really like it when individuals come together and share thoughts. Great blog, stick with it!

    https://www.sys.labaq.com/cli/go.php?s=lbac&p=1410jt&t=02&url=https://www.ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-glendale-california

    May 23, 2021 at 04:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. JebgEncox

    Sumycin https://pharmacylo.com/ canada discount pharmacy

    May 23, 2021 at 06:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. RV Wraps Los Angeles

    This excellent website definitely has all the information I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

    https://www.yourareacode.com/management/emailer/sections/link.php?campaign_id=5541&url=https://ocrvmotorsports.com/rv-repair-shop-chatsworth-california

    May 23, 2021 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RV Couches Los Angeles

    Great post. I will be experiencing a few of these issues as well..

    http://53938.measurementapi.com/serve?action=click&publisher_id=53938&site_id=92394&sub_campaign=g5e_com&url=http://ocrv.guru/rv-repair-shop-brea-california

    May 23, 2021 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. LbsoZisse

    generic cialis overnight delivery http://ucialisdas.com/ cialis

    May 23, 2021 at 20:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. FmrfEncox

    cialis paypal https://cialisee.com/ cialis price per pill

    May 23, 2021 at 22:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. RV Parts Riverside

    /

    May 24, 2021 at 05:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. AnooEncox

    how to buy viagra in saudi arabia https://llviagra.com/ – nescafe viagra how to buy viagra at pharmacy

    May 24, 2021 at 06:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. JebgEncox

    Estrace http://pharmacylo.com/ cheap online pharmacy

    May 24, 2021 at 08:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RV Blinds Orange County

    https://www.ontariocourts.ca/search-canlii/scj/newdecisions-en.php?link=http://ocrvmotorcoaches.com/rv-repair-shop-saugus-california

    May 24, 2021 at 10:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. toy hauler upgrades

    After looking over a number of the articles on your website, I seriously like your way of blogging. I book marked it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Take a look at my web site as well and tell me how you feel.

    http://old.evermotion.org/stats.php?url=https://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-apple-valley-california

    May 24, 2021 at 11:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. LebnEncox

    web pharmacy https://xlnpharmacy.com/ Clarinex

    May 24, 2021 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Digital Marketing Firm

    An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a coworker who had been doing a little homework on this. And he actually bought me breakfast due to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to discuss this topic here on your web site.

    http://www.computer-chess.org/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=http://affordableranking.com/

    May 24, 2021 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Camera Riverside

    https://www.etis.ford.com/externalURL.do?url=https://leonids-info.ru/obratnaya-svyaz/otzyvy-o-sajte

    May 24, 2021 at 19:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. RV Lighting Riverside

    After exploring a few of the blog articles on your web site, I truly appreciate your technique of writing a blog. I book-marked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Please visit my web site too and let me know what you think.

    http://www.gioventuserviziocivilenazionale.gov.it/umbraco/newsletterstudio/tracking/trackclick.aspx?nid=019098041150212080233251243158013164091152066154&e=136230108200032083192062168039010178178045226182102021156245003066150193106117056122142226206160&url=http://hatlesshacker.com/2019/12/18/network-news-transfer-protocol/

    May 24, 2021 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. GtnbCrulk

    street value of viagra https://jokviagra.com/ – viagra and nitroglycerin viagra and nitroglycerin

    May 24, 2021 at 20:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RebfZisse

    walmart cialis https://rcialisgl.com/ generic cialis price

    May 24, 2021 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. RV Seats Riverside

    http://www.aquarist-classifieds.co.uk/BANNER-MANAGEMENT/click.php?id=44&url=http://www.nextstepsolution.co.th/wordpress/일본에서한국에대한적대감만대전바카라-확률키우/

    May 24, 2021 at 21:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. fabrication shop near me

    /

    May 24, 2021 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Used Forklift Maintenance Shop California

    https://www.priyo.com/feed/redirection?url=https://forkliftswildwestlifttrucks.com/reach-forklift-repair-orange-county-california

    May 25, 2021 at 00:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Social Media Marketing Consultants Near Me

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful post. Thanks for supplying this info.

    http://www.purnonskinsimple.com.au/changecurrency/4?returnurl=http3A2F2Faffordableranking.com

    May 25, 2021 at 03:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Forklift Rental Los Angeles

    http://server.tongbu.com/tbcloud/gmzb/gmzb.aspx?appleid=699470139&from=tui_jump&source=4001&url=https://forkliftswildwestlifttrucks.com/upland-forklifts/

    May 25, 2021 at 03:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Content Marketing Experts

    This is a good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise info… Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!

    http://www.teleplaza.com/rd/Clickbounce.cfm?url=http://www.affordableranking.com/

    May 25, 2021 at 04:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Digital Marketing Consultant Near Me

    http://www.websurfercard.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 25, 2021 at 05:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Internet Marketing Experts Near Me

    Greetings, I think your web site may be having browser compatibility issues. When I take a look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in I.E., it's got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Apart from that, great blog!

    http://dentrx.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 25, 2021 at 06:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. New Forklift Rental California

    Spot on with this write-up, I actually believe that this web site needs far more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the information!

    http://blogs.dnalc.org/?wptouch_switch=desktop&redirect=http://forkliftswildwestlifttrucks.com/brea-forklifts

    May 25, 2021 at 06:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Google Marketing Specialist

    Aw, this was a very good post. Spending some time and actual effort to produce a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and don't manage to get nearly anything done.

    https://mygorodsp.ru/go?to=http3A2F2Faffordableranking.com

    May 25, 2021 at 07:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Forklift Repair Shop Los Angeles

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly feel this web site needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the information!

    http://www.ref.webhostinghub.com/scripts/click.php?ref_id=nichol54&desturl=https://forkliftswildwestlifttrucks.com/los-alamitos-forklifts/

    May 25, 2021 at 07:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Social Media Marketing Services Near Me

    http://www.russianmiami.com/Frame.php3?q=http://www.affordableranking.com

    May 25, 2021 at 10:02 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Leave a Reply to RebfZisse


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.