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Link found between blood cancer in women and airborne allergens

Category: Female Specific Tests

A research team looking into the interaction between cancer and the immune system has discovered a link between blood cancer risk in women and a history of airborne allergies. The lack of an association with men suggested that a possible gender-specific function in chronic stimulation of the immune system might lead to the development of blood-related cancers.

Published in the American Journal of Hematology, the study showed the immune system's probable role in causing cancer and is a central point of scientific interest. Materials for the study were gathered from previous lab tests on voluntary participants.

To get their results, Mazyar Shadman, Ph.D., and his team from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center drew on a large sample of men and women who were part of the VITamins and Lifestyle study, which examined the association between cancer risk and supplement use. The participants, aged 50 to 76 years old, answered a questionnaire that centered on three major factors: diet, health history and cancer risk factors, and medication and supplement use. They also provided personal information such as age, race/ethnicity, diet, medical history and family history of lymphoma.

Finding the link
The study sought out links between various subtypes of allergies and blood-related malignancies in the participants. They found a strong association between B-cell neoplasms, a major category of lymphoma, and a history of airborne allergies, such as plants, grass and trees. Neoplasms are both cancerous and noncancerous conditions in which too many plasma cells are produced by the body. When the team divided the results by gender, they noticed the incidence of blood cancers in response to airborne allergens was higher in women than with men, although the reason for this is unknown.

"It is tempting to speculate that the additional effect of allergy may reach statistical significance in women because of their lower baseline risk for the development of hematologic malignancies compared to men. However, hormonal effects on the immune system and interactions with carcinogenesis may offer an alternative biological explanation that will require further mechanical studies, in particular if our findings are replicated in an independent study cohort," explained Shadman.

While the findings are intriguing to the scientific community, the team does recognize that there are certain limitations when it came to their results.

"Given the limited number of cases within each subtype of hematologic cancer, the risk estimates need to be interpreted with caution … and the possibility of chance finding due to multiple testing should be recognized," Shadman concluded.

Regardless, the research is significantly beneficial to the study of allergens and cancer risks in women. When faced with risk, blood testing and lab tests online are a useful way to screen for any histories of allergies and blood-related diseases.

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