Allergy season: Cigarettes to the rescue?

May 14, 2009

Everyone knows that smoking can kill you, but did you know that it may help with your allergies? A new study shows that cigarette smoke can prevent allergies by decreasing the reaction of immune cells to allergens.

Smoking can cause lung cancer, pulmonary disease, and can even affect how the body fights infections. Along with many harmful effects, smoking cigarettes has a surprising benefit: cigarettes can protect smokers from certain types of allergies. Now, a study recommended by Neil Thomson, a member of Faculty of 1000 Biology and leading expert in the field of respiratory medicine, demonstrates that cigarette smoke decreases the allergic response by inhibiting the activity of mast cells, the major players in the immune system's response to allergens.

Researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands found that treatment of mast cells with a cigarette smoke-infused solution prevented the release of inflammation-inducing proteins in response to allergens, without affecting other mast cell immune functions.

The mast cells used in the study were derived from mice, but it is likely that the same anti-allergy effect will hold true in humans. While taking up smoking to cure allergies is unwise, Thomson concludes that the findings presented in this study are "consistent with a dampening of allergic responses in smokers."
-end-
Notes to Editors

1. Neil Thomson, Faculty Member for F1000 Biology, is Professor of Respiratory Medicine at University of Glasgow http://www.f1000biology.com/about/biography/7615342792492223

2. The full text of this article is available at http://www.f1000biology.com/article/id/1160325

3. Please name Faculty of 1000 Biology in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the website.

4. Faculty of 1000 Biology www.f1000biology.com is a unique online service that helps you stay informed of high impact articles and access the opinions of global leaders in biology. Our distinguished international faculty select and evaluate key articles across biology, providing a rapidly updated, authoritative guide to the biomedical literature that matters.

Faculty of 1000

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