Tuesday, January 20, 2009 by: Reuben Chow, citizen journalis
(NaturalNews) In the instant-solution and quick-fix world that is the present day, allergy reactions are often quelled using chemical drugs in order to bring about a quick end to any physical discomfort which one may be going through. However, recent research published in The Quarterly Review of Biology has strongly suggested that allergies have an important role to play - protection against toxic substances which cause certain types of cancer.
Details and Findings of Study
The article, which was written by researchers from Cornell University, has given an indication that the symptoms of allergies may help ward off cancer by doing their part to expel foreign particles, some of which may be carcinogenic or carry carcinogens with them, from the body. Allergic reactions also serve as alarm bells for potential harmful substances in the air.
A link between allergies and cancer has long been postulated in the medical community. But after many studies carried out on the subject, confusion still persists, with some studies finding positive correlation between the two (i.e. cancer patients suffered from more allergies), some finding the opposite, and some unable to establish any association at all.
But some light was shed when the Cornell study team looked at close to 650 previous studies carried out in the last half a century and examined the effects of different types of cancer as well as specific types of allergic reactions. Their findings were more than interesting.
Stronger Link Found in Organs Which Had Direct Contact With Environmental Particles
Negative correlation between allergies and cancer were a lot more likely to be found with regard to cancers of organs which had direct contact with particles from the environment external to the body. These include the mouth, throat, cervix, pancreas, glial brain cells, colon as well as rectum. Just to recap, a negative correlation means that those who suffered more from allergies wereless likely to also have cancer - this implies a protective effect of the former on the latter.
Such negative correlation, however, was less likely for cancers of tissues which were more isolated, such as the breasts, prostate and meningeal brain cells; correlation was also weaker for myeloma, myelocytic leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
With regard to specific types of allergic reactions, negative correlation between allergies and cancer was only found for those reactions associated with bodily tissues which had direct exposure to external attacks - namely eczema, food allergies, meat allergies, hay fever and hives.
Exception for Asthma and Lung Cancer
It seems that an exception may exist for asthma and lung cancer, though. Most of the previous studies analyzed had found a positive correlation between the two. And the study team explained that, "essentially, asthma obstructs clearance of pulmonary mucous, blocking any potentially prophylactic benefit of allergic expulsion". On the flip side, other lung-related allergies have protective effects.
Should We Be Suppressing Allergic Reactions?
The key takeaway from this study is that, if allergies are the body's natural means of protecting itself against disease, then why are we turning this mechanism off via artificial intervention?
According to the study team, more research in this area will be needed. "We hope that our analyses and arguments will encourage such cost / benefit analyses. More importantly, we hope that our work will stimulate reconsideration [...] of the current prevailing view [...] that allergies are merely disorders of the immune system which, therefore, can be suppressed with impunity," wrote the team, which was led by Paul Sherman, a professor of neurobiology and behavior at Cornell.
The Importance of Uncomfortable Symptoms
In reality, the findings of this study will not come as a huge surprise to those who are vaguely familiar with the basics of natural health and healing. Running noses, coughs, skin breakouts and other symptoms are the body's way of eliminating toxins and unwanted materials which it finds it cannot carry out via the more usual channels. While conventional medicine likes to suppress them, natural healers know that they can be valuable for healing.
In fact, some natural healers even deliberately induce symptoms to speed up the body's recovery processes. One symptom which comes to mind is fever, which helps to kill invading organisms, stimulates the body's production of more immune cells, as well as increases the activity of these cells.
Suppressing symptoms may bring short-term relief for physical discomfort, but it has the potential to do untold harm to the body in the long run. Unfortunately, that is exactly what most people are doing today via the use of chemical medications, which are themselves a source of toxins for the body. What a strange irony.
The Upside to Allergies: Cancer Prevention (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/action...)