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Facts About Allergies

  • Date Submitted: 09/28/2012 05:01 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 52.8 
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1  Our immune system may be like those small bands of Japanese “holdout” soldiers after World War II. Not knowing that the war was over, they hid for years, launching guerrilla attacks on peaceful 
2  With our living environment well scrubbed of germs, our body’s immune “soldiers” mistakenly fire on innocent peanuts and cat dander.
3  According to the National Institutes of Health, more than half of all Americans have one or more allergies.
4  The scariest allergy: penicillin, one of the most common causes of fatal anaphylaxis. The most disgusting allergy: cockroaches.
5  Most food allergies result from an immune response to a protein. In 2004 a team at Trinity College Dublin tried to counter that reaction by injecting mice with parasites, giving the animals’ immune systems the sort of threat they evolved to fight, thus distracting them from the food proteins.
6  The experiment worked.
7  Excited by such findings, in 2007 British-born entrepreneur Jasper Lawrence flew to Cameroon and walked barefoot near some latrines. His aim was to acquire hookworms, which he hoped would defeat his asthma and seasonal allergies.
8  That worked too.
9 Lawrence has since started a business shipping the parasites worldwide (but not here, where the FDA prohibits it). For $3,000, customers receive up to 35 hookworm larvae.
10  Simply apply the larvae to a bandage, slap it on, and in a few minutes they wriggle through your skin. No word yet on the success rate.
11  Allergies to shellfish, nuts, fish, milk, eggs, and other foods cause an estimated 150 to 200 fatalities a year in the United States.
12  Yum. Edible radio-frequency ID tags, currently under development, could be mixed into your meal to record its composition. A “smart plate” created by London-based industrial designer Hannes Harms would then warn allergic eaters of problem ingredients.
13  Warning: A walk in the grass could turn you vegan. Scott Commins at the University of Virginia has shown that tick...


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