There are reports of new research findings making the rounds of the Web this week. If you're looking for an excuse to keep smoking, you might be cheered to learn that this research suggests that smoking provides some protection against allergies.
But, before the nonsmokers start bashing this post, let me explain...
A researcher, Dr Robert J. Hancox, of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, studied 946 New Zealanders from birth to the age of 32. Results showed that smokers whose parents had allergies were less likely to develop allergies themselves by adulthood. This was true even if the parents smoked during the person's childhood years.
In people without a family history of allergies, this same "protective" effect of smoking was not seen. There was no evidence, though, that smoking could improve allergies once they'd begun.
Researchers studied—and eliminated—a number of other possible influencing factors.
So how can this be true, when everything we've always been told was to avoid tobacco smoke? It seems that smoking represses the immune system. And since a hyperactive immune system is at the root of allergies and asthma, apparently repressing it also represses the allergic response.
So, are experts now recommending that people take up smoking in order to prevent the development of allergies? Will cigarettes be "prescribed" as preventive therapy for children whose parents have allergies and asthma?
Hardly... you see, this is still very much a case of the risks outweighing the dubious benefits. There's a wealth of scientific evidence proving that smoking increases your risk for:
- heart disease
- all sorts of pregnancy complications
- premature aging
- peripheral vascular disease
That's just the tip of the iceberg. Smoking is not a healthy habit for anyone to indulge in. What researchers emphasize you should take away from this study is that smoking damages the immune system. Although the immune system goes overboard when it causes allergy symptoms, it is designed to protect you from harm. So, when smoking damages it, you lose much of that protection as well.
Published On: January 30, 2008