NOV 21, 2023 9:00 AM PST

Allergic Immune Responses Raise Risk of Heart Disease, Death

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

New research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has shown that allergic responses in the form of increased antibody production to common foods, such as peanuts and dairy, can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and death.

The study included over 5,000 participants who took the National Health and Examination Survey 2005-2006 or were part of the Wake Forest site of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis cohort, which enrolled participants between 2000 and 2002. The participants were tested for whether they produced antibodies in response to common allergens, including cow’s milk, peanuts, shrimp, and eggs. Then, the participants were followed-up with through 2019, and the development of heart disease and cardiovascular death were monitored. The goal of the study was to determine whether antibody production in response to common food allergens is associated with cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular mortality.

The results showed that people who produced antibodies in response to certain foods, particularly dairy products, had an increased risk of cardiovascular mortality. The link was strongest for dairy products, but it was also significant for peanuts and shrimp. About 15% of people produce antibodies in response to these foods, but not all people who produce antibodies have an allergic reaction. The strongest link found in the study was for people who produced antibodies but continued to eat the foods, suggesting that they had no or minimal allergic reactions.

One of the authors of the study noted that they did not think most of the participants had an allergic reaction to the foods they were consuming. Instead, the study measured a “silent” immune response to foods that could cause increased inflammation and lead to cardiovascular issues. In the future, this research could lead to personalization of heart-healthy diets by measuring individual responses to common foods.

Sources: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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