Fact or Myth: Are Pesticides Creating A Rise In Allergies?

This is a FACT.

The answer to the drastic increase in food allergies may be found in pesticide use. Dichlorophenol is a compound used in many pesticides. It also chlorinates our drinking water.

More than 15 million people suffer from food allergies in the United States.

A new study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology points to pesticides increasing allergies. Lead study author, Elina Jerschow M.D., M.Sc and ACAAI fellow, stated, “High levels of dichlorophenol-containing pesticides can possibly weaken food tolerance in some people. This chemical is commonly found in pesticides used by farmers and consumer insect and weed control products, as well as tap water.”

The U.S. National Health and Nutrition survey found dichlorophenols in 25% – 2,500 people – of more than 10,000 participants questioned. The majority of these cases were included in the ACAAI research. Food allergies were found in 411 and environmental allergies were found in 1,016.

“Both food allergies and environmental pollution are increasing in the United States. The results of our study suggest these two trends might be linked,” said Dr. Jerschow. Linking pesticides increasing allergies is simply one more reason to choose organic foods whenever possible. pesticides increasing allergies

Between 1997 and 2007 there was an 18% increase in nationwide food allergies according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Food allergy reactions can be mild – such as a rash or swelling of the tongue – or severe. Anaphylaxis is an extreme, often life-threatening reaction to an allergen. Shellfish and peanuts are the most commonly known foods that produce a rapidly escalating allergic reaction. Your immune system “reads” the food as poison and launches a full-scale counterattack to combat it – throwing your entire body into chaos.

Symptoms include shock, a sudden drop in blood pressure and airway blockage. ACAAI advices that those with severe allergies always carry two doses of epinephrine. Most allergy-related deaths are due to not getting epinephrine into the system fast enough.

Top 10 Most Common Food Allergies

  1. Milk – between 2-5% of children develop a milk allergy before age one
  2. Eggs – found in mayonnaise, baked goods, pasta, candy, white wine and root beer
  3. Peanuts – actually a legume, reactions to ingested peanuts gradually worsens
  4. Tree nuts – such as cashews, walnuts and almonds – also used in lotions and shampoos
  5. Wheat – used in breads, baked goods, cereals and as a “thickening agent” in soups and sauces
  6. Soy – used as a filler in many pre-packaged foods
  7. Fish – such as salmon, cod, tuna, mackerel, anchovies, Caesar dressing and Worcestershire
  8. Shellfish – crabs, shrimp, lobster, oysters and mussels
  9. Celery – interpreted as pollen by those who are allergic – no matter how it is prepared
  10. Sesame – previously most common in Asia, sesame allergies are growing in the U.S.

Hope for Allergy Sufferers

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology recently published research results from Mount Sinai School of Medicine that may mean good news for those who suffer from peanut allergies. Xiu-Min Li, M.D. and lead author, said, “Approximately 80% of fatal or near-fatal anaphylaxis cases are due to peanut allergy in the United States. There is an urgent need for effective therapies to prevent and treat those who suffer from food allergies.”

Food Allergy Herbal Formula (FAHF-2) provided long-term allergy protection to mice with lab-induced peanut anaphylaxis. Results from a previous study conducted by Dr. Li and her team showed that this treatment proved effective for up to four weeks after discontinuing use. “FAHF-2 could prove to be a major advancement in this field,” Li added.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved this new treatment for investigation use. Additional studies are ongoing for use of FAHF-2 to treat tree nut, shellfish and fish allergies.

Said co-author and professor of pediatrics Hugh Sampson, M.D., “This botanical drug has the potential to be developed into the first available and effective treatment for patients with peanut allergies and other food allergies.” Dr. Sampson is the Director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai.

Pesticides increasing allergies can be minimized by using filtered and bottled water for drinking and choosing organically grown and raised foods.