Food allergies for humans have become increasingly rampant in the last couple of years, a group of studies suggests that exposure to certain types of germ- and weed-killing chemicals may be at fault and could be the crux for further food allergy development in humans.
Dichlorophenols (DCPs) are the chemicals created to breakdown common pesticides in various environments, including: water purification, moth balls, air fresheners, deodorizer cakes in urinals and certain herbicides that are sprayed on crops.
Elina Jerschow, MD, an allergist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y. claims that DCP’s are quite common and they may to blame for the rise in food allergies amongst humans.
In general, doctors are seeking to better understand what is behind the rising amount of food allergies in the United States. Results from a study done in 2008 found that from 1997 to 2007, there was a ten percent jump in food allergies within the nation. According to Jerschow, research results may indicate that perhaps increasing protection from germs might somehow lower a person’s tolerance to certain foods.
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) provided data that she used to compare the levels of the chemicals in urine to antibodies to foods in the blood. However, she admits that her methodology may prove imperfect to measuring food allergies because people can be sensitive to certain foods without having difficulties when they eat. Most of 2,211 people used in the study had detectable amounts of DCPs in their urine. At least 400 showed sensitivity to at least one food item such as peanuts, eggs or milk; while over 1,000 people were sensitive to environmental allergens such a ragweed or pet dander.
Furthermore, the study showed that those people exposed to higher levels of chemicals were at least two times more likely to show sensitivity to at least one food in comparison to those who had lower exposure of chemicals – a factor that proved true against other criteria such as race, age, and a diagnosis of allergies or asthma.
“For some reason, in our study, we found people who were sensitized to foods had the highest levels of dichlorophenols,” Jerschow says referring to the study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
The study proves that there is a connection between DCPs and food allergies. DCPs alone may not be the sole determinant of allergies but the study does point out that the cleaner an environment a human lives in, the less opportunity their immune system may have to fight off invaders and thus weaken.
“The massive increase in food allergies is a relatively recent phenomenon, but we have been using chlorine to disinfect tap water since the mid-19th century. So it does not seem likely that the source of the problem is chlorinated tap water,” says Elizabeth Scott, PhD, co-director of the Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community at Simmons College in Boston. However, humans drink more than water and are exposed to increasing levels of chemicals not present at that time.
Having food allergies is something a high amount of people in the United States may have to cope with and it is important that restaurants list known allergens in their food menus. If you are allergic to some source of food and it was not disclosed to you, contact a Los Angeles injury lawyer.
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