-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 4, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Women with pollen
allergies may be at increased risk for blood cancers such as
leukemia and lymphoma, a new study suggests.
Researchers did not uncover the same link in men. This suggests
there is something unique in women that causes chronic
allergy-related stimulation of the immune system to increase
vulnerability to the development of blood cancers, the study
The study included 66,000 people, aged 50 to 76, who were
followed for an average of eight years. During the follow-up
period, 681 people developed a blood cancer. These people were more
likely to be male, to have two or more first-degree relatives with
a history of leukemia or lymphoma, to be less active and to rate
their health status as poor.
Among women, however, a history of allergies to plants, grass
and trees was significantly associated with a higher risk of blood
cancers. The reason for this is unknown but may have something to
do with the effects of hormones, according to the authors of the
study in the December issue of the
American Journal of Hematology.
"To the best of our knowledge, ours is the first study to suggest important gender differences in the association between allergies and [blood cancers]," wrote study first author Dr. Mazyar Shadman, a senior fellow in the clinical research division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
Shadman noted that there is great scientific interest in the
immune system's potential role in cancer development.
"If your immune system is over-reactive, then you have problems; if it's under-reactive, you're going to have problems. 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," Shadman said in a news release from the center.
While the study found an association between pollen allergies
and blood cancers among women, it did not prove
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about
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