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Allergy - Cancer DNA Link

July 17th 2005

DNA link between Brain Cancer and Allergies and Asthma

Allergies may protect you

In the July 15th Issue of Cancer Research, Dr. Judith Schwartzbaum reported that people with asthma and allergies were at a lower risk of developing the most common type of malignant brain tumor. Dr. Schwartzbaum told Best Syndication " Drugs (allergy drugs) that block the products of these genes may block protection so maybe there are new cases of allergy (and not just better diagnosis) but treatment is blocking protection from this condition."

It is possible that the same genes that cause the allergic or asthma disorder may protect against the deadly glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumors.  Dr. Schwartzbaum told Best Syndication in regards to the DNA findings  "Your observation suggests it is the genetic variants themselves (no short term changes in these) rather than the diseases."  She told us it may not be the Genes themselves, but the allergic reaction that protects the individual.

According to the Doctor, “We identified five single nucleotide polymorphisms on three genes previously associated with asthma, and one gene associated with inflammation”.  People with genes identified with asthma and allergies were less likely to develop GBM.

The researchers compared 111 people with GBM to a control group of 422 without.  The researcher’s conclusions were based on comparing the DNA samples between the two groups. 


Dr. Schwartbaum (Division of Epidemiology and Biometrics, School of Public Health, Ohio State University) hopes that the study will help in our understanding of the immune system's role in cancer.  There are several possibilities as to why people with allergies are less likely to contract GBM (gliomas).

It is possible that certain genes that cause allergies help regulate chemical messengers called cytokines.  These messengers control the actions of the cells that drive the immune system.  It is possible these chemicals share a common pathway within the immune system.

It is also possible that the immune response in people with asthma and allergies may help protect them from brain tumors.  If this is the case, Schwartzbaum says this would be great finding.  

WebMD reported that the doctor questions how aggressively allergies and asthma should be treated.  “Obviously, people can die from asthma. It is a serious disease that needs to be treated. But it could be that a little bit of hay fever may be a good thing."

Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system.  A small amount of allergen (substance the person is allergic to) can cause a huge immune response.  The sufferer may develop sneezing, watery eyes, itchy rashes and swelling of the lips and tongue.

Studies have found one in four people suffer from allergies.  This ratio is increasing by about 5% a year, and about half of the sufferers are children.  A recent study found that asthma and wheezing in children under five years of age has almost doubled since 1990

Each year, 41,000 Americans are diagnosed with a brain tumor, and GBM accounts for 23 percent of them.  Most of the cases occur in the elderly. It is interesting that many children can outgrow allergies, and most allergies develop before the age of 40.

By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer


Keywords and misspellings: Brane canser alergy asma






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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:40 PM