Allergies could be a blessing in disguise, against cancers

November 12th, 2008 - 3:39 pm ICT by IANS  

University of MassachusettsWashington, Nov 12 (IANS) Sneezing, coughing and itching may just help prevent cancer affecting colon, skin, bladder, mouth, throat, uterus and cervix, lung and gastrointestinal tract, according to a new study.These cancers involve organs that are exposed to the external environment, said Paul Sherman, professor of neurobiology and behaviour at Cornell University, who led the study.

He and colleagues analysed 646 studies on allergies and cancers published over the past 50 years, putting together “the most comprehensive database yet available” on allergies and cancers.

The study revealed “a strong relationship” between allergies and cancer in environmentally exposed tissues, Sherman said.

This relationship seldom exists, he noted, between allergies and cancers of tissues that are not directly exposed to environment, particularly breast and prostate cancers, myelocytic leukemia and myeloma, said a Cornell report by Susan Lang.

The study has been co-authored with Erica Holland, a medical student at the University of Massachusetts, and Janet Shellman Sherman, a Cornell research scientist.

“Sherman believes that allergy symptoms may help protect against cancer by shedding foreign particles from the body. Some of those particles, he said, might be carcinogenic or carry carcinogens.

Asthma is linked to higher rates of lung cancer. Unlike other allergies, however, asthma reduces the ability to expel mucus, while other allergies facilitate mucus expulsion and are correlated with lower rates of lung cancer.

These findings are scheduled for publication in the December issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology.

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