Growing Incidence of Food and Chemical Intolerances

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Just before Christmas our oldest daughter developed swollen eyes, a puffy face, and fatigue while in her workplace. Her reaction remained a mystery until she had a similar response in a grocery store near the floral department. The common factor? Poinsettias. Was her reaction an allergic response to the plant itself? Or a response to the chemicals sprayed on the poinsettias? In all likelihood the chemicals were the problem, as multiple chemical sensitivity is now a daily part of her life.

More and more people suffer from chemical intolerance, food sensitivities, and allergies. According to this abstract of a study published in November in Science of the Total Environment, scientists believe we are seeing a pandemic of these illnesses.

The prevalence of allergic-related diseases, food intolerance, and chemical sensitivities in both the pediatric and adult population has increased dramatically over the last two decades, with escalating rates of associated morbidity. Conditions of acquired allergy, food intolerance and chemical hypersensitivity are frequently the direct sequelae of a toxicant induced loss of tolerance (TILT) in response to a significant initiating toxic exposure. Following the primary toxicant insult, the individuals become sensitive to low levels of diverse and unrelated triggers in their environment such as commonly encountered chemical, inhalant or food antigens. Among sensitized individuals, exposure to assorted inciting stimuli may precipitate diverse clinical and/or immune sequelae as may be evidenced by clinical symptoms as well as varied lymphocyte, antibody, or cytokine responses in some cases. Recently recognized as a mechanism of disease development, TILT and resultant sensitivity-related illness (SRI) may involve various organ systems and evoke wide-ranging physical or neuropsychological manifestations. With escalating rates of toxicant exposure and bioaccumulation in the population-at-large, an increasing proportion of contemporary illness is the direct result of TILT and ensuing SRI. Avoidance of triggers will preclude symptoms, and desensitization immunotherapy or immune suppression may ameliorate symptomatology in some cases. Resolution of SRI generally occurs on a gradual basis following the elimination of bioaccumulated toxicity and avoidance of further initiating adverse environmental exposures. As has usually been the case throughout medical history whenever new evidence regarding disease mechanisms emerges, resistance to the translation of knowledge abounds.

The abstract can be viewed by clicking here.