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People with allergies—particularly those with multiple allergies—appear to have a lower risk of developing low- or high-grade gliomas (types of brain tumors). These results were published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention.

Gliomas are brain tumors that arise from glial cells (cells that provide a supportive function in the brain). Depending on their characteristics, gliomas may be classified as low-grade (less aggressive) or high-grade (more aggressive).

Previous studies have suggested that people with allergies have a lower risk of glioma than people without allergies. Less is known, however, about whether glioma risk varies by the duration and timing of allergies, or by antihistamine use.

To further explore the relationship between allergies and gliomas, researchers conducted a study among 419 people with glioma and 612 people without glioma. Information about medically diagnosed allergies and antihistamine use was collected directly from the study participants.

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These results suggest that people with allergies have a reduced risk of glioma.

The lead researcher for the study concluded “Our study confirms that there is a relationship between the immune system of allergy sufferers and glioma risk. A comprehensive study of allergies and antihistamine use with standardized questions and biological markers is essential to further delineate the biological mechanism that may be involved in brain tumor development.”

Reference: McCarthy BJ, Rankin K, Il’yasova D et al. Assessment of type of allergy and antihistamine use in the development of glioma. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention. 2011;20:370-378.