Celebrities trump inauguration

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Enlarge STINGING THE BEET People who eat or use food grown with chemical compounds from the plant can develop serious allergic reactions, which can be severe and life-threatening. Credit: ShutterstockTo treat peanut allergies, some doctors are using a plant that some people have been eating or using for years. The plant in question is the plant that produces the chemical compound known as the allergen, a compound that can cause severe allergic reactions. Peanut, like all trees, is known to be a source of toxins. But a new study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine suggests that the food may actually have a protective effect. People with food allergies are most at risk for an allergic reaction, said the studys senior author, Dr. Brown, an emergency physician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. As weve learned more about the immune system, a lot of studies have focused on the inflammatory response associated with allergic disease, he said. However, there have been few studies looking at the effect that peanut proteins might have on the immune system. In the study, the researchers examined the blood levels of allergen-specific IgE in 24 people who had reactions to eating or using peanut products. Those allergic to peanuts also had higher levels of immune-suppressing proteins known to lower inflammation. Our data suggest that there may be a benefit to peanuts in allergy prevention, especially at the population level, Brown said. Brown said the studies show that if people have a high level of peanut protein in their diet, they have reduced risk of developing an allergic reaction, even after taking into account other factors that might help protect against allergies. Its not clear how much of a benefit these levels may confer if you eat peanut products frequently and for extended periods of time, such as in a day he said. Brown said his team has yet to determine how long the benefits might last, but they may protect against other food allergies. We think we need to be cautious about making these recommendations in any way without more data, he said. We dont have a lot of data with peanut allergen, so were going to be cautious about making a statement. Many people with peanut allergies also eat tree nuts, such as hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, and pecans. The researchers cannot say whether the protection might work in people with other food allergies, or it might even increase their risk of those allergies. Brown said the research did not look at allergies to peanuts or tree nuts, called nut allergies. People with nut allergies are also at risk for an allergic reaction, he said, but it is not clear if the same protective effect occurs in those cases. These are all very interesting questions, Brown said.

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