People who suffer the double whammy of having both asthma and hay fever -- have a 17 percent lower risk for dying from colorectal cancer, according to a new study.
“Having both of these conditions could indicate that you are more likely to develop allergy-related immune responses that lower your risk for developing fatal colorectal cancer,” said Eric Jacobs, Ph.D., strategic director of pharmacoepidemiology at the American Cancer Society.
People with only allergies or only asthma had little reduction in risk for fatal colorectal cancer.
Jacobs and colleagues believe that the lower risk for fatal colorectal cancer among people with both hay fever and asthma may be a result of atopy, which is the general predisposition to develop allergic responses, including those that cause allergies and asthma. According to Jacobs, it is possible that individuals with atopy may sometimes mount an allergic-like response against colon cancer cells as well.
Future research could evaluate whether an association exists between other measures of atopy, such as blood levels of the immunoglobulin E antibody, and risk for developing or dying from colorectal cancer. If such an association is found, there could be implications for development of vaccines to stimulate anticancer immune responses in patients with colorectal cancer.
“If allergy-related immune responses are lowering colorectal cancer mortality in some individuals, that would imply that a similar kind of response might be inducible by a vaccine,” Jacobs said.
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