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When scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Research Cancer Research Center took a look at the interplay of the immune system and cancer, they found that women who are allergic to certain plants, grass and trees run an increased risk of blood cancers. But the study did not find the same problem in men.
“It is tempting to speculate that the additional effect of allergy may reach statistical significance in women because of their lower baseline risk for the development of hematologic malignancies compared to men,” the researchers say. “However, hormonal effects on the immune system and interactions with carcinogenesis may offer an alternative biological explanation that will require further mechanical studies, in particular if our findings are replicated in an independent study cohort.”
The study found that if you are a woman allergic to plants, grass and/or trees, you run a bigger risk of developing what are called mature B-cell neoplasms, one of four major categories of lymphoma. There was also an increased risk of plasma-cell neoplasms for women who reported being allergic to cats, dogs or other animals. Plasma-cell neoplasms are conditions, both cancerous and noncancerous, in which the body makes too many plasma cells.