Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New Food Allergy "Theory"

Well here's one I've never heard before! Some genius, commenting on this article, writes the following:

Reality be damned. And won't right wingers be embarrassed when we conclusively determine the reason egg and peanut allergies are skyrocketing is because of environmental damage caused by their policy decisions, their "issues du jour", for example, support for even more and less-safe pesticide use.

That is too funny! I think the first sentence is extremely telling, don't you?

Those crazy right-wingers! What will they do next?

1 comment:

Flibbert said...

That is a very, very strange thing to say, but many allergic reactions are really exuberant immune responses to innocuous substances.

I'm not a doctor, I'm just repeating what I read in a book about parasites one time.

When a foreign object is introduced in the body, one of the major antibodies that the body sends to fight it is Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which triggers the rest of the immune response (histamine production, etc.). This is relevant to parasites because many parasites have evolved to avoid triggering this immune response.

Studies have shown that allergies to things like dander, pollen, and whatnot have lower rate of occurrence in developing countries, which is linked to the high exposure to less clean conditions and other infections. Basically, Americans get a lot of hay fever because we're actually too clean, while people in developing countries are too busy fighting off more serious problems to be worried about something like pollen.

Some people with peanut allergies are responding to aflatoxins (a toxin released by mold that grows with peanuts. Genus aspergillus, I think), but other people are responding to proteins in the peanuts themselves. The result in either case has been shown to be an IgE response which can be measured by histamine production.

I'm only bringing all of that detail up because to me (not a doctor or scientist or anything like that) it seems like if the anyone is making the environment WORSE then the rate of allergies would decrease, not increase, as our bodies adjust to fight the onslaught of pollutants and other infections. Meanwhile, an increase in allergies would seem to imply a decrease in environmental pathogens.

Again, not a doctor here. I'm just saying that in addition to not passing a basic sniff test, that particular theory doesn't even make sense to those with a basic understanding of the science behind allergies. (I could know just enough about this to hang myself, of course, but still.)