-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Spice allergy affects up to
3 percent of people and can seriously restrict their everyday
activities, an expert says.
Spices are one of the most widely used products and are found in
foods, cosmetics and dental products. Because the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration does not regulate spices, they often are not
listed on food labels and are therefore difficult to identify and
Spice allergy is responsible for 2 percent of food allergies,
but is under-diagnosed because there are not reliable allergy skin
tests or blood tests, according to information presented Thursday
at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma
and Immunology in Anaheim, Calif.
"While spice allergy seems to be rare, with the constantly increasing use of spices in the American diet and a variety of cosmetics, we anticipate more and more Americans will develop this allergy," Dr. Sami Bahna, former president of the college, said in a college news release. "Patients with spice allergy often have to go through extreme measures to avoid the allergen. This can lead to strict dietary avoidance, low quality of life and sometimes malnutrition."
In his presentation, Bahna noted that women are more likely to
develop a spice allergy because spices are widely used in
cosmetics. Makeup, body oils, toothpaste and fragrances can all
include one or more spices.
Spice allergy triggers can include cinnamon, garlic, black
pepper and vanilla. Some spice blends contain anywhere from three
to 18 spices, and the hotter the spice, the greater the risk for an
"Boiling, roasting, frying and other forms of applying heat to spices may reduce allergy-causing agents, but can also enhance them depending on the spice," Bahna said. "Because of this allergy's complexity, allergists often recommend a treatment plan that includes strict avoidance, which can be a major task."
Spice allergy should be suspected in people who have multiple
reactions to unrelated foods or in those who react to commercially
prepared foods but not foods made at home, Bahna said. Symptoms of
spice allergy range from mild sneezing to a life-threatening
allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.
Data and conclusions presented at meetings are typically
considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
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