Allergy: the anticancer disease of civilisation
Medical mushroom extracts and the restoration of the ‘ancient’ allergy-free system) We can only understand the essence of allergic diseases if we get to know their anthropological origins. But at first what are we talking about? Allergy means the organism’s hypersensitivity against a substance. The immune system overreacts when it perceives foreign materials the so called allergens. Allergens can be for example the pollens of grass, weed or tree, house dust mite and food. However, the overreacting immune system can have positive effects as well. It was proved by a prospective study which lasted for 18 years that the presence of asthma and hay-fever in the organism decreases the probability of cancer death with more than 10%. Hay-fever itself decreased the occurrence of the extremely dangerous pancreatic cancer. The role of the asthma is not totally clear because while it decreased the occurrence of leukaemia it decreased the occurrence of lung cancer a bit as well. The allergy’s anti-colon cancer effect was confirmed by many prospective studies: it can decrease the risk of colon cancer up to 25%. The allergy’s (eg. asthma, hay-fever, eczema) brain cancer (glioma) effect was justified by comparative case studies. It can decrease the occurrence of this usually fatal type of cancer up to 30%. In so far as autoimmune disease joins the allergy the occurrence of glioma decreased 76%. It was stated in a similar study that allergy decreases the occurrence of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is triggered by a herpes virus, up to 20%. In the case of an allergy the immune cells which cause the symptoms of illness can enhance the anti-cancer effect during their intensified operation. It is conspicuous in the cases of brain cancers where the immune system can’t have its full effect due to the border of brain-blood. The inflammation processes around the brain-cancers change the blood-brain border’s features increases its permeability so the so called peripheral immune cells can enter the brain with a greater number. In the case of colon cancer it was proved that certain immune cells’ (T cells) density and presence around the tumour tissues can predict the changes of survival. It’s not surprising that the immune system’s overwork often decreases the chances of cancers as its opposite, the overwhelming of the functioning of the immune system for some reasons, leads to the opposite direction to the increase of the probability of cancer.
In the case of transplantation the immune system is oppressed artificially so as it can’t attack the new organ. It was proven by a survey that in these cases the probability of cancer increased to 400%. While the non-melanoma skin cancer, lip cancer, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma’s occurrence increased, the vulva, vagina, rectum cancer, mouth cancer, tongue cancer, kidney cancer, oesophagus cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, bladder cancer, lung cancer, thyroid cancer’s occurrence increased only slightly. In the case of the AIDS disease which causes immune deficiency we can observe the increase of the risks of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma.
Allergic diseases are concerned to be modern illnesses because in ancient cultures they are unknown. This pops the question what led to their massive appearance. The so called ‘hygiene hypothesis’ was started by Strachan which has been modified many times since then. According to the original hypothesis the larger family you live in the less opportunity to suffer from allergic diseases. According to the modified hypothesis the changes of the environment led to the massive spread of allergies, the traditional allergens, microbes, endotoxins in which the environment was rich at the time of our ancestors has changed. It became ‘cleaner’. From 1980 the number of people who suffer from asthma increased with 1% every year. Scientists started to examine the factors which bothered our immune system. It was conspicuous that allergic diseases are rare in the case of grown children who live in the countryside, in farms, keeping animals than for those who live in an urban environment. It is mentioned as an important fact that in Germany before the union the risks of hay-fever and asthma differed from their rate nowadays. While in the west 5.9% of the population is affected by these diseases in the east, where the environment was really polluted, it is only 3.9%. After the union the occurrence of allergy among the east-west population increased significantly indicating the closeness to the western territories. The early environment forms the reactions of the developing children’s immune system to the external effects. The early environment can foster or also prevent the later occurrence of allergic diseases. In the cases of children who live near animals in a rural environment and who drink unpasteurized milk the formation of allergy is lower. Those children whose mother worked with animals during the pregnancy didn’t suffer from asthma in a great extent.
For the children who visit the nursery and kindergarten regularly during their first two years the risks of asthma is 50-70% lower. Generally, in the case of the richer people who live in a ‘cleaner’ society the allergic diseases are more frequent than for those who live in a poorer, developing society. However, it can occur as well that in a given society the poorer layers’ allergic diseases are the more frequent. The causes of these can be found in the risk factors of the given social environment. Characteristics of the lower social environment are the physical stress, lower social support, parental and family problems, unemployment, maternal depression and fear, frequent violence and crime which predominate. These are all stress factors which can be inflammatory and can induce the formation of asthma, hay-fever and eczema or even exasperate the illness which was formed during childhood.
Obesity inflammation decreasing effect is a very dangerous risk factor. So watching TV a lot can induce the later forming asthma. The partly hydrolysed trans fats can also foster the formation of asthma, eczema and hay-fever. Too short breast-feeding (shorter than 4-6 months) can enhance the possibility of the formation of allergy. It can be so in the case of maternal smoking during and after the pregnancy.
Further risk factors can be certain medications which are taken by the children during the first year. These medications may influence the natural development of the immune system. The taking of acetaminophen depending on the dose during the first year can increase the formation of asthma more than 300% by the ages of 6-7 and can also induce the formation of eczema and hay-fever at this age. Prospective studies also show that the usage of antibiotics during the child’s first year depending on dose-slightly (10-100% increase of risk)-can increase the possibility of the formation of asthma, hay-fever and eczema. What perceives the significance of the problem is that in the western world one in eight school children suffers from asthma. The harmful effects of the usage of the cleaning sprays are remarkable. According to researchers these are the causes of every seventh asthma disease. It’s interesting that in the case of children who were born with Caesarean operation the formation of asthma also increases 20%.
In harmony with the hygienic hypothesis the infectious substances also contributed to the natural development of our ancestor’s immune system. This is why many infections have decreasing effects on allergic diseases. The presence of Hepatitis A, which can pile up in huge families or lower social layers, can decrease the formation of allergy with 40%. The powder measured in children’s beds and the quantity of endotoxin was also in inverse relationship with the sensitivity for asthma, hay-fever and allergy. The endotoxin (inflammatory components of the cell walls of bacteria) doesn’t cause infections but can trigger an immune reaction thanks to which the immune system develops toleration towards other components of the environment (eg. pollen, animal allergens).
The infection of tuberculosis and hookworm can also decrease the rate of allergic diseases. According to an overall meta-analysis among the people infected with hookworm the occurrence of asthma decreased 50% compared to the non-infected people. Besides these the occurrence of the autoimmune diseases was lower too. The human immune system developed during the coexistence with the parasitic worms. So the presence of parasitic worms may be necessary for the healthy functioning of the immune system. Parasites can change the inflammatory response of the host organism in order to protect themselves from devastation so as to the host can’t throw them out. In a randomised, placebo controlled experiment people observed the formation of the sensitivity to the house dust on the skin as an effect of destroying parasites in the organism. Anti-worm therapies usually enhance the sensitivity of an allergy. Intestinal worm infection’s anti-allergen effect manifests when the infection is strong, early and the parasites’ types are appropriate (hookworm).
Many studies prove that the pollutions of our modern age can increase the death rates but they don’t influence the danger of the formation of an allergy significantly. According to an international ecological survey which compares countries the micro particles polluting the environment don’t influence the formation of asthma, hay-fever and eczema during childhood. The same survey stated that in the case of higher pollen contamination the allergy’s symptoms are not so frequent so the high pollen level extends slight immunity against the formation of allergy. In fact we couldn’t find a clear connection between the occurrence of the asthma and the air pollution indexes despite, the fact that air pollution can exasperate the state of the asthma. An interesting connection is that the autoimmune diseases just like in the cases of insulin dependent diabetes and the presence of rheumatoid arthritis the allergic diseases occur more often. The researchers conclude that the autoimmune and allergic diseases can have common natural risk factors. In the case of both groups of diseases the immune system gives not appropriate responses to the so called non-pathological antigens.
After getting to know the probable causes of the formation of allergy the question pops up about the possible ways of decreasing the frequency of the occurrence of the disease. Should we return to the traditional way of life? Should we create a ‘dirty’ environment around us and our children? Before we say yes immediately to these questions we should take into consideration that the civilisation’s achievements (clean water, vaccinations against infections, antibiotics, the extirpation of parasites, ‘clean’ environment) can be the reasons of the massive spread of allergic diseases, these caused the improvement in life expectancy and infant death rates. So what can be effective is the usage of agents which can maintain not only the activation of the immune system or the anticancer defences but also decrease the formation of autoimmune diseases and even to decrease or stop the symptoms of the already existing disease.
Many medical mushroom extracts are proved to increase the activation of the immune system’s anticancer cells while having an anti-allergic effect (decreasing the histamine level) as well. This is why folk doctors and the naturopathy use them to cure autoimmune diseases and to decrease the symptoms of allergic diseases as well. It is remarkable too that it was proved in an animal experiment that the anti-inflammatory apigenin has effects on the eczema as well.
Author: Gábor Varga, drug expert