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Allergy cuts cancer risk

Thursday July 22nd, 2010

People with allergies may enjoy a reduced risk of developing cancer, according to a new analysis.

Researchers have linked asthma and the skin condition eczema to reduced rates of two common cancers.

The Canadian researchers found that people with these two conditions faced about two thirds of the risk of developing cancer faced by other people.

The findings come from a study of some 3,300 men diagnosed with cancer in Montreal, Canada, over a seven year period. These were compared with 500 healthy men.

The study, reported in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, showed strong links with two cancers.

The researchers found that people with eczema were about one third as likely as others to develop lung cancer. And people with asthma were also much less likely than others to develop stomach cancer.

The findings may be partly explained by differences in smoking rates - but the researchers say people with allergies may benefit from hyper-active immune systems that can fight cancer.

Researcher Professor Marie-Claude Rousseau, of the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, said: "Asthma and eczema are allergies brought about by a hyper-reactive immune system – a state which might have enabled abnormal cells to have been eliminated more efficiently, thereby reducing the risk of cancer."

Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Volume 104, Issue 5, May 2010, Pages 378-384

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Cancer | North America

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