New research claims to further suggest that having allergies may protect you from developing brain tumors.
Those with a host of different allergies — to food, pollen and pets — were less likely to get a type of tumor called a glioma than those who aren’t allergic to anything, according to a review of several small studies published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
Scientists from the University of Illinois, Chicago, say they found evidence of a link between low glioma risk and allergies: the more allergies a person has, the lower the chance he or she will get that type of tumor later.
The evidence on the subject has been mixed. Past research has not found any association between gliomas and allergies.
“This is a theory,” New York City allergist Cliff Bassett tells AOL Health of the latest findings. “It’s not clear what the significance of their findings are at this time. … I don’t think we have the data to make any conclusive statements.”
The way in which allergies might prevent tumors from forming isn’t known. Some have speculated that allergic people have hyperactive immune systems, which in turn may ward off cancer.
The researchers studied information from 419 patients with glioma and 612 without the tumors who’d visited an area hospital. The subjects had provided reports on their own allergies and use of antihistamines to control their symptoms.
Taking allergy medications apparently didn’t have a major impact either way on whether there was a heightened risk of getting the brain tumors, according to the Illinois team. Some of the patients with allergies also did have gliomas, the findings indicated.
But one expert who wasn’t affiliated with the study but has done similar research in the past said that using allergy medication actually seems to increase the risk of getting a glioma.
Dr. Melissa Bondy of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center told CNN Health that some of the drugs that alleviate symptoms like itchy eyes, sneezing and wheezing might actually reduce the allergies’ anti-tumor benefits.
She emphasized that her hypothesis needs further research before a definitive conclusion can be made.
The latest study’s co-author Bridge McCarthy cautioned that her research doesn’t prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship between having a lot of allergies and developing fewer gliomas. Instead, her team’s analysis shows an association between the two factors.
More definitive proof would typically come from a large-scale clinical trial, which Bondy and her colleagues are currently organizing.
Gliomas are the most common type of brain tumor and originate in the brain or spine.
Bassett, the medical director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York, advises patients not to change their course of treatment just yet.
“People taking antihistamines should not stop taking them,” he said. “I would not rush to judgment.”
This article was originally posted on AOL Health News.