Could allergies protect against cancer?

Thursday, January 12, 2012
Could allergies protect against cancer?

Anyone with a skin contact allergy — most commonly to nickel, which is found in jewellery, nail polish and remover, some cleansers and shampoos and countless other products — will tell you how frustrating the condition is, as well as how unsightly.

Anti-inflammatory creams can help, but the only sure cure is avoidance, which can be tricky.

However, there may be an upside to the problem, with a British Medical Journal study suggesting that women with contact skin allergies have much lower rates of breast cancer and non-melanoma skin cancer.

Related: Chew gum, lose weight

Researchers at the Copenhagen University Hospital tracked nearly 17,000 adults over a 25-year period, and found a significant difference between incidences of these cancers in people with the allergies and those without.

The reason, they suggest, is that 'hyperimmunity' — a condition which may give a person added protection against certain cancers — often has the side effect of an increased likelihood of allergies.

Your say: Do you suffer from skin contact allergies? How do you manage your condition?

Video: Managing allergies at home

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