Allergies may protect against pancreatic cancer
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Having a history of allergies or hay fever may offer protection from deadly pancreatic cancer, according to a study appearing in the International Journal of Cancer.
Ayelet Eppel, of Mt. Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues examined the association between a history of allergies or asthma and the risk of pancreas cancer in a population-based, case-control study in Ontario.
They identified cases of pancreatic cancer through the Ontario Cancer Registry and recruited control subjects from the Ontario Familial Colorectal Cancer Registry.
A total of 276 pancreatic cancer cases and 378 controls were included in the study.
The investigators found that a history of allergies or hay fever was associated with a significant 57 percent reduction in the risk of pancreatic cancer.
The reduction in risk was stronger in men than in women. There was no association between history of asthma and the risk of cancer of the pancreas.
"Further research is needed to replicate these findings," Eppel told Reuters Health.
"If replicated, our findings may be of importance to understanding the biological mechanisms involved in pancreas cancer development -- for example, the role of the immune system," the researcher explained, adding: "The association between allergies and certain cancers has been found in other studies."
SOURCE: International Journal of Cancer, December 2007.