[Sca-cooks] increasing allergies

Stefan li Rous StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
Sat Aug 16 17:46:02 PDT 2008

I'm going to rearrange various comments so I can address them in a  
logical order.

Randell Raye:
<<< At a guess, I think allergies could be increasing because we can  
and prepare for them. >>>

Some increase is likely due to this. The same way that a higher  
percentage is dying of ailments related to old age. If people die at  
younger ages before an allergy has a chance to develop, then you  
don't see the illness.

<<< In the bad old days we didn't have epipens etc, If you didn't get  
affected person to emergency for a shot they stood the risk to die.
If they die young, they are less likely to breed and pass on the  
sensitive genes. >>>

No, I don't think that has had a chance to effect things. Yet. We  
haven't had enough human generations for better allergy protection to  
drastically affect our genetics.

<<< One theory that I have heard is that we live "to clean."  Our  
immune system
was "designed" to work at a certain level of activity.  When it  
doesn't find
things to fight it fights things it finds.  I understand that this  
theory is
based on epidemiological data and involves all sorts of allergies. >>>

Yes, this is one that I've heard and it makes a lot of sense. The  
other part of this are some studies that children that grow up  
exposed to animals, including pets, are less likely to be affected by  
allergies. The idea being that the various foreign viruses and  
organics due to the animals give the immune system to learn with and  
to attack. It may well be that in our much cleaner environment that  
the immune system, like many countries, has problems sitting around  
primed for a war that never comes. Think of the US and the Spanish  
American War. So it finds an excuse to attack what it can find.

<<< In our case, where there are various allergies to this and that,  
no family
allergy to peanuts exists on either side, to our best knowledge.
The pediatric allergist we went to, a very good one, said essentially  
really didn't have a clue why peanut allergies have risen so  
dramatically. >>>

My suspicion is that we'll eventually find out is that *we* are  
causing this problem. Not just by cleaning up the environment of the  
items that might train the immune system, but by confusing it in  
other ways and this might in fact be accentuated by the too-clean  

We are dumping, intentionally and not, many 'new' compounds into our  
environment. A while back it was DDT. Now it is probably various  
pesticides but also plastics and various synthetics. While all of  
these often have beneficial uses, I suspect that some have effects we  
are unaware of. But worse, it isn't that the compounds are  
particularly dangerous in themselves. It is that they are *close  
enough* to something else that the body should get rid of. So we are  
filling the environment with various triggers that set off the immune  

Immune systems are probably not perfectly specific. It comes down to  
a trade-off. If the immune system is too specific, either through  
evolution or learning, then it is more likely to miss something that  
*is* dangerous to the survival of the individual/species. If it is  
too general, it spends resources attacking something it has no reason  
to. This wastes resources and energy. In the worse case, the  
"something" it attacks is something the organism needs such as a  
pancreas. In our case we are dumping so many compounds into the  
environment that evolution has had time to tweak the immune system to  
be more specific in what it considers an enemy.

So it may not be peanuts that set off a peanut allergy. It may be  
something else in the environment which the body has decided is bad  
and some compound in peanuts is close enough to what the body got  
trained to fight that it goes into hyper-drive when it sees that  
compound in peanut stuff. This would explain why such allergies could  
pop up without any genetic component.

<<< Respiratory allergies is a different story, I have heard those  
linked to
"too clean" houses, but not necessarily peanuts. >>>

It may be that some respiratory allergies are created by the item  
that later creates the problem and others are actually caused by  
something totally different but which matches too well with something  
perhaps more common.

I am not an immunologist or a medical person. This last one about  
synthetic environmental triggers is just my own guess.

THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra
    Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas           
StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
**** See Stefan's Florilegium files at:  http://www.florilegium.org ****

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