Skin Allergies May Protect Against Cancer

New research suggests that people who develop itchy rashes when their skin comes into contact with certain metals or chemicals have a lower risk for certain cancers. Investigators say the findings support the idea that allergies may trigger the immune system to kill cancer cells before they do damage — a theory known as the immunosurveillance hypothesis.

Contact allergies are delayed reactions to metals like nickel or cobalt or to chemicals, such as those found in plants such as poison ivy and poison oak, perfumes, and hair dyes. Earlier research suggests that people who suffer from other types of allergies may have a lower risk for certain cancers, but the new study is among the first to look specifically at contact skin allergies. Read more…

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