A Link Between Allergies and Other Health Disorders (including Cancer)

6 Sep

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month so the disease is much on my mind.  In my recent research, I was amazed to discover that Mast Cells in Allergic Reactions are linked to Cancer and their manipulation is now being looked into as a possible treatment for Cancer.

My then 1 year old son’s eczema on a MILD day.

To Feed or Not To Feed My Son with Allergens?

While I believe feeding allergens to my son is toxic for his body, many people believe just the opposite.  The most common response I have received is: “You need to expose him to what he is allergic to so that his body gets used to it.  He needs to build up a defense to bad food!” 

Really?  And subject my son to terrible eczema day and night?  I don’t think so! If my son’s body exhibits a negative exterior response due to an allergen, can you just imagine the interior damage to his body?

Mast Cells Link Allergies to Health Disorders

Recently, I skimmed through Robyn O’Brien’s book The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Is Sick and What We Can Do About It.  In a section entitled “The Cancer Connection,”  she explains how allergies are linked to other health disorders, including cancer, through the presence of mast cells.

When a protein is identified as a “toxic invader,” the allergic body produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, which attach themselves to mast cells and produce cytokines and histamines against these “toxic invaders.”  At the same time, these mast cells cause allergic symptoms like runny or stuffy nose, breathing difficulties and inflammation in the body.  O’Brien states “Many doctors also believe [this] inflammation contributes to other disorders, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.”

The Resources

As I dig a little deeper, I find even more reasons (and scientific proof!) NOT to feed my son foods to which he is allergic!

1. The Critical Role of Mast Cells in Allergy and Inflammation which shows that the presence of mast cells due to allergic and anaphylactic reactions cause a variety of inflammatory diseases affecting the heart, joints, lungs and skin including:

  • Asthma Bronchonstriction – pulmonary inflammation
  • Atopic dermatitis – Skin vasodilation, T-cell recruitment, inflammation, itching
  • Coronary artery disease – Coronary inflammation, myocardial ischemia
  • Chronic prostatitis – Prostate inflammation
  • Chronic rhinitis – Nasal inflammation
  • Fibromyalgia – Muscle inflammation, pain
  • Interstitial cystitis – Bladder mucosal damage, inflammation, pain
  • Migraine Meningeal – vasodilation, inflammation, pain
  • Multiple sclerosis – Increased blood–brain barrier permeability, brain inflammation, Demyelination
  • Neurofibromatosis – Skin nerve growth, fibrosis
  • Osteoarthritis – Articular erosion, inflammation, pain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – Joint inflammation, cartilage erosion

2. A few studies or reviews that link the presence of Mast Cells with

3. The Multifaceted Role of Mast Cells in Cancer which discusses and cites medical studies on how certain cancers proliferate due to the presence of mast cells. There is a theory that cancer is actually “a chronic allergic reaction mediated by mast cells.”  Tumor development or disease progression were linked to an increase in mast cell numbers in these cancers:

  • Rectal cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of mouth and lip
  • NSCLC adenocarcinomas (studies are contradictory)
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Follicular lymphoma (but not with diffuse B-cell lymphoma)
  • Endometrial Cancer
  • Gastric Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer

Unfortunately, simple is not always easy.  There are also studies that show that the presence of mast cells improves the survival of patients with breast, prostate and ovarian cancer – but these studies are in the minority.

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3 Responses to “A Link Between Allergies and Other Health Disorders (including Cancer)”

  1. Columba Lisa September 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

    Very interesting. My son was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (juvenile onset – an autoimmune disease), He also has asthma and had eczema as an infant. We rarely eat sugar and he is taking supplements to dampen his immune system. I really believe diet is a huge factor with these issues. Great post!

  2. Mama In The Kitchen September 6, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    Thank you Lisa for visiting! I hope all the best for your son. What do you all eat at home?

  3. anna September 8, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    Very beneficial information. Thank you

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