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Can the body’s allergy repellents also fight brain tumors?

Certain types of brain tumors may be suppressed by antibodies found prominently in those with allergies.

In the middle of allergy season, allergy sufferers may retreat into their homes, turn on HEPA air filters and use medication to treat their symptoms. It is a process no one enjoys, but if studies are correct, allergy sufferers may be able to find a silver lining to the daily irritation they experience.

A recent Brown University study suggests that those with allergies may actually be better equipped to fight certain types of cancer. Individuals with allergies were found to possess elevated levels of immunoglobulin, which leads the immune system's fight against allergens. Of those studied, individuals with elevated immunoglobulin levels were less likely to develop glimoas, which are a type of brain tumor. In addition, those individuals who did contract tumors, despite having higher immunoglobulin levels, lived longer than those with lower levels.

"In terms of fighting the cancer or preventing it from growing, people who have allergies might be protected," study co-author Dominique Michaud told Science Daily. "They might be able to better to fight the cancer."

Scientists must complete more research before any conclusions can be drawn, but the findings seem to reinforce similar results of previous studies, including one published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, which found that 46 percent of people without glimoas had an allergy. According to WebMD, another study found that those with skin allergies were less likely to develop skin and breast cancer.

Collectively, the still unproven connection between allergies and cancer is known among doctors as the immunosurveillance hypothesis. Additional research is needed, but according to Michaud, at the very least, existing research should compel cancer researchers to study the biological mechanisms involved in the association, which may provide insight as to treatment options. 

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