After years of Western medicine writing off food allergies as rare and with only a small set of possible symptoms, the research is coming to light. In just one example, a recent survey identified a correlation between food allergies and asthma.
As reported by Jewish Health Associate Professor of Pediatrics Andrew H. Liu and his colleagues in the November 2010 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, food allergies are more common in people with asthma and may actually contribute to asthma attacks. Dr. Liu felt that food allergies may be an under-recognized trigger for “asthma exacerbations.”
The survey included over 8,000 people, aged 1 to over 60, and had their blood tested for antibodies to peanuts, milk, eggs, and shrimp. This was reportedly a very comprehensive study, and the first to look at specific blood serum levels and food allergies across the whole life spectrum (not simply infants and toddlers).
The subgroup of participants who were identified as the most sensitized to one of more of the food allergens were twice as likely to have an asthma diagnosis. To add insult to injury, those who currently have asthma were 3.8 times as likely to have food allergies as those who had been previously diagnosed with asthma but no longer have it.
The researchers also found that the odds of having food allergies grew with the increasing severity of asthma. Participants who had visited an emergency department for asthma in the past year were almost 7 times as likely to have food allergies as those who had ever been diagnosed with asthma but not visited an emergency department.
As of yet, the researchers were not able to determine if food allergies cause asthma attacks or the two are actually manifestations of a severe allergic profile.
Overall, the researchers estimated that 2.5 percent or 7.5 million Americans have food allergies, and that the prevalence of food allergies was most common in children (ages 1 to 19), males, and non-hispanic blacks.
Source: National Jewish Health – November 2010 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology