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Allergy Meds May Fight Cancer

Jul 01, 2014 05:00 PM EDT
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Allergy suffers everywhere rejoice! You may be staving off cancer without even realizing it. Antihistamine - the active components of many allergy drugs - may help fight certain kinds of cancer, according to a recent study.
(Photo : Pixabay)

Allergy suffers everywhere rejoice! You may be staving off cancer without even realizing it. Antihistamine - the active components of many allergy drugs - may help fight certain kinds of cancer, according to a recent study.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Leukocyte Biology, details how antihistamines are interfering with myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), unbeknownst to medical professionals everywhere.

Thankfully, this is the kind of cell activity interference that you would want to see occurring. Past studies have found that MDSCs hinder the body's natural ability to combat cancerous tumors.

Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University determined this after running several tests on two groups of mice. One group of healthy mice were infected with a rodent intestinal helminth - triggering a strong allergic reaction. This group, along with a second group of mice with cancerous tumors, were injected with MDSCs and treated with antihistamines.

Remarkably, the antihistamine treatment in both groups led to a mitigation of the adverse effects of MDSCs. In the tumor group, tumor growth was also effectively reversed, as the body's ability to fight and shrink these tumors was no longer hampered.

To support their findings, the researchers also analyzed the blood of human patients with and without allergies. They found that people with allergies, and thus a higher natural release of histamine - the substance that causes allergic reactions - had higher levels of MDSCs in their blood as well. This indicates a connection between histamine and MDSCs.

John Werry, the deputy editor of The Journal of Leukocyte Biology (JLB), expressed his surprise that even though antihistamines are one of the most common drugs seen in the global market, there is still much we don't know about them.

"It is certainly not yet time to prophylactically administer antihistamines for cancer prevention," he added in a statement, "but the more we learn about myeloid-derived suppressor cells, the more interesting these cells and their products become as immunotherapy targets in cancer."

The study was published in the first July issue of JLB.

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