Allergy, Food Sensitivities, and Cancer




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"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
- Thomas Edison

Enzyme supplementation can eliminate undigested food particles from the blood, thereby removing the necessity for the immune system to react to them.




Hello to Everyone!

I have read Michael Lerner's book, "Options in Healing", off and on for the past year. Friday night I was up during the night sick to my stomach after eating Mexican food earlier in the evening. I came across the excerpt below and bells started ringing. What if the undiagnosed skin rash that I have had on my chest and trunk area for the past fifteen years was caused by celiac allergy? Could that have something to the development of my lymphoma/leukemia?

Then I went to, an information site for celiac syndrome. More bells, and flashing lights. The description of the symptoms, especially as they pertain to the Dermatitis Herpetiformis (skin rash manifestation) fits me perfectly.

I now believe there is a correlation between allergies in general and cancer. Food sensitivities and/or allergies are apparently strongly correlated with the development of lymphoma of the intestine and leukemia. The association is stronger in men than in women by a factor of 2:1. Did your oncologist inquire about a possible celiac condition when you were diagnosed? Mine didn't. I have been to three different dermatologists and a highly respected allergist over the past 15 years about the rash on my chest. None ever suggested that it could be a reaction to food, or specifically to gluten containing grains.

For those of us who may have celiac syndrome, there is no way to achieve a cure or even a partial remission if we continue to aggravate our intestines with gluten. This information could also be vital to those who might just be starting to get celiac symptoms but before any cancer develops.

From Chapter 12: Can Vitamins and Minerals Help?

Allergy, Food Sensitivities, and Cancer

Early in the twentieth century, mainstream medicine in America had a significant interest in food allergies and sensitivities. This interest diminished drastically as modern pharmaceutical research created the potential to control many allergic reactions with antihistamines, and the field of allergy research moved from the clinician's office into the laboratory. As the new focus on laboratory research on antigen-antibody interactions developed, a splinter group of allergists called "clinical ecologists" broke off from the mainstream and kept their focus on empirical relationships between foods and other allergens and clinical responses to them. Moreover, the clinical ecologists came into existence just as the petrochemical revolution after World War II was sweeping through the American economy, creating a whole new realm of chemical exposures for the American public that no medical specialty was addressing adequately. So the clinical ecologists added an empirical interest in chemical sensitivities to their interest in food allergies and other allergenic problems.

The clinical ecologists remain an "alternative" medical group, largely despised by their mainstream colleagues. As with many other splinter groups, the clinical ecologists attract many "true believers" who make excessive claims for the field. Yet in my judgment the clinical ecologists are pursuing an important line of inquiry concerning patterns of human reaction to foods, chemicals, and other substances.

In mainstream nutritional research, the relationship of allergies to cancer is a minor, yet potentially significant issue. The central question raised is whether allergies may have a protective effect against development of cancer or predispose people to it. A 1988 report by William McWhorter of the NCI summarizes the research from a series of studies over the last three decades: "Thirteen [studies] reported allergy to be protective, three found no association, and two found allergy to be a risk factor. The hypothesis often given to explain a protective effect is that individuals with allergies may have hyperstimulated immune systems, which are better able to detect and eliminate incipient malignancies."

McWhorter reported a prospective study of 6,108 adults surveyed during 1971&shyp;75 in the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.73 His objective was to focus on the relationship between a history of allergy and the subsequent risk of developing cancer. The group with allergies--those who had been told by a physician that they had asthma, hay fever, hives, food allergy, or any other allergy--constituted 30.1% of the sample, or 26.3% if the category was restricted to those who had allergic histories of more than 5 years. He found that allergy sufferers--controlling for race, sex, age, and smoking history--had a "highly significant positive association between history of any allergy and development of any cancer." A family history of allergy was also a risk factor for subsequent cancer.

Breaking down the allergies into specific subgroups, and the cancers into specific diagnoses, McWhorter found that the strongest cancer association was with hives and "lymphatic and hematopoietic malignancies, which included leukemias, lymphomas, and myelomas [emphasis added]. ... The adjusted risk factor of developing a lymphatic - hematopoietic malignancy for persons with hives was particularly strong."73

This study is, the author notes, the first prospective study that controls for age, sex, smoking, and race, and the first based on a population derived from a national probability sample. The limitations of the study included the small numbers of people with specific allergies and specific cancer types, and the very real possibility that allergic symptoms were underreported by people with higher cancer risk--nonwhites, smokers, males, and older people.74

In Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, Maurice Shils supports McWhorter's findings in one significant area: he reports on a series of studies which document an increased risk of intestinal lymphomas among patients with celiac syndrome. Celiac syndrome is an allergy or hypersensitivity to the gliadin fraction of grain protein gluten. Three separate studies reviewed by Shils found a very high incidence of intestinal lymphomas in a series of celiac patients: 10% in one study, 6.2% in a second, and 6.9% in a third: "Because of this relationship, lymphoma should be suspected with the onset of celiac syndrome in middle age especially, but also in young people particularly with certain racial backgrounds. Males above 40 years of age with long-standing celiac syndrome who are not eating a gluten-free diet are a major risk group [emphasis added].75

To this, I would add some personal and clinical notes. I have a special interest in this subject because my father developed an intestinal non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and my brother was born a celiac syndrome child. I developed a celiac condition when I was 40, accompanied, when uncontrolled, by hives, and my son has also been diagnosed with a wheat allergy which may well reflect broader celiac sensitivity. I have strong reason to suspect an undiagnosed celiac condition in my father, based on a lifelong history of skin rashes similar to those my brother and I experience when we do not follow a celiac diet. To my knowledge, lymphoma patients (including Hodgkin's disease patients) are rarely, if ever, informed of the high incidence of celiac syndrome preceding lymphoma. I wonder--as I do with other nutritionally related cancer research--whether a diet that may well prevent the development of lymphomas might play some adjunctive role in controlling an established lymphoma, particularly when there is a history of celiac disease.

I would hypothesize further that allergy may play a protective role against some cancers--especially in certain phases of an allergic life history--but that it might play a contributing role at other times or for other cancers. Borrowing from Hans Selye's stress studies, some allergists believe that allergies may stimulate the immune system for a considerable period of time, but that sustained stress over long periods (including allergic stress) may result ultimately in depleted resilience. Thus, the allergy might be protective in an earlier period of life, but if allergies and other stresses exhaust immunocompetence in later life, it might become a risk factor. One finding in the McWhorter study is intriguing in this regard: the one age period in which allergy appeared to have a protective effect was in the youngest adults surveyed--the 25- to 34-year-olds--where the risk odds ratio of having allergies and developing cancer was less than one--0.7.76

Immune function in cancer patients is sometimes tested by seeing whether they are capable of generating an allergic response. Both mainstream and some alternative medicines (notably the Gerson program) recognize the return of capacity for allergic response as evidence of a recovering immune system. Many alternative nutritional cancer therapies are widely reported to diminish allergic responses in healthy people, and for good reason: they often eliminate or greatly diminish exposure to common food allergens such as wheat, dairy products, caffeine, refined carbohydrates, chocolate, and eggs. That raises the question of whether or not there may be a benefit in reducing exposure to nutritional, chemical, or other allergic or hypersensitivity stresses in cancer. The hypothesis would be that relieving the significant immune stress of the allergy or hypersensitivity might support the recovery of immune potential to combat the cancer. I know of no research on this significant point.

73 William P. McWhorter, "Allergy and Risk of Cancer: A Prospective Study Using NHANESI [First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey] Followup Data," Cancer 62:451&shyp;5 (1988).

74 Ibid., 454.

75 Maurice E. Shils, "Nutrition and Neoplasia." In Robert S. Goodhart, M.D., and Maurice E. Shils, M.D., eds., Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease (Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1980), 1177.

76 McWhorter, "Allergy and Risk of Cancer," 453.

Thought you might find this not only interesting, but compelling!

Peter Lorenz


Dr. Arthur Coca reportedly cured many afflictions by using a pulse test to diagnose allergies to foods and other substances, and then having the patients adjust their diet and lifestyle appropriately - by simply avoiding the cause. Everyone might benefit from learning the pulse test. Basically, you measure your pulse (beats per minute) before you get out of bed and write it down, before you eat a meal consisting of one food and write it down, 30 minutes after eating and write it down, and 60 minutes after the meal and write it down. That is a completed test for one food. After the 60 minute test you can eat another single food meal and take your pulse at 30 minutes and 60 minutes writing it down each time. Repeat through the day. "The injurious foods are recognized by the abnormal speed-up of the pulse." Children can learn how to do this when they are old enough.   


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