The 1 Common Health Problem Linked to Blood Cancer

By on November 26, 2013
For many people, dealing with sneezing, watery eyes, and a clogged nose are unavoidable evils during a rise in pollen levels–clear signs of a seasonal allergy.

Yet research published in the December issue of the American Journal of Hematology says there’s a new reason to worry about these symptoms: It’s linked to blood cancer.

“To the best of our knowledge, ours is the first study to suggest important gender differences in the association between allergies and hematologic malignancies,” says Mazyar Shadman, M.D., M.P.H., lead researcher of the study who works for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “Increasing evidence indicates that dysregulation of the immune system, such as you find in allergic and autoimmune disorders, can affect survival of cells in developing tumors.”

Using data from the Vitamins and Lifestyle cohort, which gathered data from people between the ages of 50 to 76 years old living in western Washington, Shadman and his team of colleagues focused on their health histories, including use of certain medications, cancer risk, and diet. Information on their race, education level, intake of fruits and vegetables, and history of certain allergies, such as mold or dust allergies, were also taken into account by Shadman.

From there, researchers studied the participants for around eight years until they moved away, wished to no longer participate, or encountered a cancer diagnosis. In total, 681 people ended up developing blood cancer–most of them male.

And the biggest link? Many people who developed blood cancer also had a history of being allergic to pollen from grass, trees, or certain plants.

“It is tempting to speculate that the additional effect of allergy may reach statistical significance in women because of their lower baseline risk for the development of hematologic malignancies compared to men,” writes the study’s authors in a written statement. “However, hormonal effects on the immune system and interactions with carcinogenesis may offer an alternative biological explanation that will require further mechanical studies, in particular if our findings are replicated in an independent study cohort.”

So How Do You Stop Allergies?

So the evidence couldn’t be clearer: The more severe your allergies are, the higher your chances are of developing blood cancer. But if you’re hoping for a cure to stop your body from developing allergies, unfortunately there’s no relief in sight–but there are ways to naturally prevent its symptoms.

“We’re in the midst of a season when outdoor allergies have a way of making you feel like doing just about anything short of running your head through a car wash to make yourself feel better.,” writes Mehmet Oz, M.D. on his website “Though there’s not a ton you can do to prevent outdoor allergies from hitting hard, you can do some things to help ease the hidden allergies that could be making you miserable.”

To stay allergy-free, here’s what Dr. Oz recommends:

  • Cover your pillows and mattresses with a latex cover. Latex covers help keep dust mites, a common allergen, from escaping into the air, easing symptoms such as sneezing and watery eyes. For your best bet, check out latex covers called hypoallergenic dust mite protectors, which offer the best defense against dust mites.
  • Dust and vacuum often. Not doing so can cause dust mites or dander to accumulate, which can worsen your allergy symptoms.
  • Use HEPA filters. Short for high efficiency particular air filters, HEPA filters help filter out common allergens inside your home, such as dust and animal dander. Make sure to change the filter once every quarter to keep your home free of allergens.

Readers: What are some other ways you minimize allergies?

How to Stop Allergies Before They
Study: Allergies Linked to Blood

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