Are you seeing more people sneezing and tearing up every allergy season? Studies show that allergies are on the rise in developed countries, including the United States -- not just seasonal allergies, but allergies of all kinds. Officials say they can't quite pinpoint the mysterious cause behind such a dramatic increase in allergies, blaming it on some unknown factor in human genetics and our environment. However, it really is no mystery at all.
An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Symptoms include red eyes, itchiness, and runny nose, eczema, hives, or an asthma attack. Allergic reactions are typically defined as sensitivities that occur when a person's immune system reacts to a supposedly harmless substance in the environment. The real problem is that there are many substances in our environment which are no longer harmless.
Close to 55 percent of Americans were sensitive to at least one allergy-inducing substance, according to a national survey conducted from 1988 to 1994 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). That's about two to five times higher, depending on the allergen, than the rates found by NIH between 1976 and 1980. Today almost 70 percent are sensitive to more than one allergy-inducing substance.
And food allergies in children have also experienced an uptick. From 1997 to 2007, the number of children with food allergies rose 18 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Walk into any kindergarten class, and they're all nut-free kindergarteners because of the high incidence of nut allergies. These kids didn't exist a few decades ago. Many schools are even having to put restrictions on eggs, seeds and even specific types of fruits.
5 REASONS ALLEGIES ARE INCREASING
1. We're Too Clean
The "hygiene hypothesis" proposes children aren't exposed to enough dirt, bacteria and other infectious agents early on, and their under-stimulated immune systems goes on the offense when exposed to benign stuff like food.
The immune system needs to come into contact with a variety of micro-organisms and bacteria while it is developing at the infant stage, in order that it responds appropriately later in life.
Children are actually increasingly allergic to anti-bacterial products, many which are ironically supposed to prevent allergies.
Whilst children living in farms were previously directly exposed to animals, and their environment contained a range of microbial agents and plant derived agents, most of us now live in cities where we have minimal exposure to animals. We know that children with regular contact with farm animals have a lower incidence of allergy. Inadequate exposure to environmental micro-organisms may therefore result in the immune system of atopic children developing a tendency towards allergy.
Previous studies have shown that children in daycares, known to be hotbeds for spreading germs, have fewer allergies than those raised at home with less contact with other kids, said Dr. Richard Honsinger, an allergist and immunologist at Los Alamos Medical Care Clinic in New Mexico.
Studies show that the microbial world in which a child is reared plays a role in allergy development, seemingly from birth. Babies delivered vaginally accumulate markedly different bacteria on their skin and in their guts than babies delivered by Caesarean section, and that in turn has been linked in studies to a lower risk of hay fever, asthma and food allergies.
Common air pollutants, such as ozone, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide probably act more as irritants than as promoters of sensitization. These pollutants have been shown to be hazardous to adults and children with asthma. Recent studies suggest that prematurely born children are more sensitive to the respiratory effects of outdoor pollution. There may also be an association with diesel exhaust particles and the worldwide increase in respiratory allergies. Diesel exhaust has been shown to enhance the ability to make the allergy antibody, IgE, in response to exposure to allergens.
Exposure to smoke results in the body's enhanced ability to produce IgE (the allergy antibody) that attaches to allergens (e.g. pollen, dust mites and dander). The IgE response is a key trigger of allergic reactions.
The concentration of air pollution in our environment depends on both the amount of pollution produced and the rate at which pollutants disperse. This depends largely on wind (both strength and direction). In areas where the wind is very strong, pollution is dispersed and blown away. In areas where there is little or no wind, air pollution accumulates and concentrations can be high.
Geoengineering strategies are taking a huge toll on the environment of every major city in the world. High altitude chemtrails contain high levels of barium and lead as well as trace amounts of other chemicals including aluminum, arsenic, chromium, cadmium, selenium and silver. They have also been found to contain more than twenty different types of bacteria and fungii detected in various cities throughout the world at various concentrations with the potential to cause many different types of allergies and diseases.
3. Genetically Modified Foods
A popular book, Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey Smith, is raising literacy about genetically modified foods and the threats they pose to sustainable life on our planet. The book also details how the increase in allergies could be largely attributable to GMO foods.
Researchers have found clear links among the consumption of GM-corn and immunological alterations in the gut and the exacerbation and creation of allergies.
When a new gene is introduced into a plant’s genome, the principal end result is the production of a new protein. Sometimes, new proteins found in transgenic plants can be entirely new to the human diet. Therefore, we can not simply assume that these new substances are non-allergenic based on past experience.
Proteins are large molecules composed of chains of diverse amino acids that fold into characteristic, three-dimensional structures. Countless different kinds of proteins exist, which enable organisms to perform myriad chemical and physical tasks. In theory, every protein holds the potential to trigger an allergic reaction. A protein causes an allergic reaction when certain conditions are met.
The surface of the protein must present IgE antibody binding sites.
Antibodies specific for certain allergens are only produced by individuals with immune systems susceptible to that allergen.
The more genetically modified plants become present on the market, the more people will be consuming proteins new to the human diet.
4. Medications in the Water Supply
Many concerns about chronic low-level exposure of medications exist directly from our drinking water.
Our bodies may shrug off a relatively big one-time dose, yet suffer from a smaller amount delivered continuously over a half century, perhaps subtly stirring allergies or nerve damage artificial hormones and drugs in the water supply. Medications may pose a unique danger because, unlike most pollutants, they were crafted to act on the human body.
Residues of birth control pills, antidepressants, painkillers, shampoos and a host of other compounds are finding their way into waterways, and they have public health and environmental officials in a regulatory quandary.
The pharmaceutical and personal care products, or P.P.C.P.'s, are being flushed into rivers from sewage treatment plants or leaching into groundwater from septic systems. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, researchers have found these substances, called "emerging contaminants," almost everywhere they have looked for them and they may be the culprits behind the increasing rates of many types of allergies.
These are chemicals that are designed to have very specific effects at very low concentrations. That's what pharmaceuticals do. So when they get out to the environment, it should not be a shock to people that they have very specific and damaging effect on health.
While drugs are tested, the timeframe is usually over a matter of months, not a lifetime. Pharmaceuticals in low doses in the water supply also can produce allergies when they interact with other drugs at normal medical doses.
"We know we are being exposed to other people's drugs through our drinking water, and that can't be good," says Dr. David Carpenter, who directs the Institute for Health and the Environment of the State University of New York at Albany.
Vaccines clog our lymphatic system and lymph nodes with large protein molecules which have not been adequately broken down by our digestive processes, since vaccines by pass digestion with injections. This is why vaccines are linked to allergies, because they contain large proteins which as circulating immune complexes (CICs) or "klinkers" which cause our body to become allergic.
Approximately 20 percent of children may outgrow their allergies, but with the increased frequency of recommened vaccines before the age of 3, severe allergic reactions will likely increase.
Egg is the second most common food allergy in early childhood. Approx 1.5 to 3.2 percent of all children under 3 have an egg allergy. It is fast becoming a recognized fact that those with an egg allergy should consult their doctor before receiving a vaccination. This is because occasionally vaccines are grown in cell cultures of chick embryo’s and may cause a reaction.
One of the first vaccines given to children, DTaP10, contains casein. Casein allergy coincidently appears in children in the first few months of life. Another vaccine given to children at two months of age is the Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV7). Each serotype for this vaccine is grown in soy peptone broth. A soy allergy is most common in infants and is usually noticed by 3 months of age...coincidence?
Injections have been used to create allergies in test animals. Any food protein remaining in the vaccine from the culture medium or diluent oils when injected along with an adjuvant can cause a food allergy.
It's not a call for parents to abandon all hygiene practices, since hygiene (not vaccinations) is what eradicated many infectious diseases in the last few centuries. However, it is important to maintain a sense of awareness on all the factors that may affect and influence childhood allergies.