If you suffer from severe allergies, you may find it hard to understand how your discomfort could actually turn out to be a real blessing.  But some researchers believe that the sneezing, itchy eyes, nose and throat and tiredness that go along with different types of hay fever and allergic reactions could actually be protective.

Allergies and Cancer

Though the correlation seems unbelievable, several studies have discovered that having allergies may lower your risk of getting certain types of cancers. So the misery you suffer might really be the lesser of two evils.

The jury is still out as to exactly how allergies and cancer interrelate, but there are several different theories as to why having allergies seems to lower the risk of getting a cancer diagnosis.

The Theories that Exist

Both allergies and cancer affect the immune system, but doctors suggest that the way they do this can differ a great deal and this programming may be at the heart of deciding which condition you will get. In allergies, the immune system has a heightened response to various triggers, while in cancer, the problem could stem from an immunodeficiency instead. Therefore, one thought is that most people whose immune response is hyper reactive may be less likely to be programmed to develop cancer.

Another possible theory to try to explain exactly why some types of allergies can protect you against some types of cancers is that when your immune system is programmed to fight off cancer cells, the actual process may also cause the hyper responsive state that triggers the allergic reactions you experience.

Regardless of why and how it occurs, though, recognizing the relationship between allergies and cancer that exists could actually make your seasonal symptoms seem much easier to bear this year.

The Findings on Allergies and Cancer

It is not only nasal allergies that seem to lower the risk of developing cancer. A study looking at eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) found that this skin reaction decreased the risk of being diagnoses with several types of cancers, including pancreatic cancer, brain cancer and childhood leukemia.

Another study, this one looking at the risk of getting non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, found that atopic dermatitis didn't offer protection against this specific disease, but having hay fever and food allergies did greatly reduce the odds of getting it.

Unexpected Results

It is also interesting to note that some researchers say that the protective factor that allergies bring actually contradicts their expectations in how allergies and cancer are related. In fact, some experts admit that would have thought the immune system reaction that occurs with allergies would be more likely to increase the susceptibility to developing cancer cells as well. But in a surprising twist, just the opposite seems to be true. This finding is certainly good news for you.

So  next time your allergies make you sneeze, just keep in mind that it may not actually end up being such a bad thing.




Allergy/Asthma Information Association


The University of South Wales (UNSW)