Do allergies protect against cancer?
The question has been asked over many years and some studies have been performed, but all of them were in people, not dogs. Still, there's a really interesting discussion to be had about it because it can help us understand more about the immune system.
What leads one body to react to a seemingly harmless substance (think pollen, or a food) and another to ignore the growth of abnormal cells is poorly understood. Yet, if this involves different programming in the immune system, it's possible that an individual prone to one condition is at lower risk of developing the other. In short: allergies may protect against development of cancer. To be honest, I thought this was way out there when I first started looking into it many years ago, but studies have become better, providing stronger support for this very thing.
Data from multiple studies examining a link between atopic dermatitis (red, itchy skin) and cancers of the pancreas, brain and acute lymphocytic leukemia found that a history of atopic dermatitis decreased the risk of those cancers.
Another study of adults 20-74 years of age looked at the risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and found that both hay fever and food allergy reduced it.
The mechanism isn't understood very well, although there are some theories that seem to make a lot of sense including allergies causing a hyper immune surveillance, and removal of carcinogens. Interesting as this may be, it doesn't suggest what we can do about it. The one thing you can take away from it though is that no matter the mechanism, removal of carcinogens is an obvious plus, and we do indeed have ways of helping do that! Here are 3 easy steps to take right away:
1. Feed a fresh food diet (raw, or cooked) that's properly balanced for your individual dog.
2. If feeding kibble, add a little fresh food daily. Brightly colored veggies and fruits are bursting with antioxidants.
3. Use supplements thoughtfully. CoQ10 is a very powerful antioxidant. The dry version works nicely and costs less. Although this is a fat soluble antioxidant, there is fat in a dog's food, so unlike people who swallow supplements with water, dogs eat their food and reap the benefit of this supplement. Ours is on sale right now and has shown great results.
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