Over the past few weeks we’ve had allergy warnings about cats, household damp and peanuts. Now scientists at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology have added another to their list – spices. Spice allergy affects up to three per cent of us, but experts are warning it is under-diagnosed due to the lack [...]

Sunday Times 2

Allergies to spices are on the rise – and women are more at risk

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Over the past few weeks we’ve had allergy warnings about cats, household damp and peanuts. Now scientists at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology have added another to their list – spices.

Spice allergy affects up to three per cent of us, but experts are warning it is under-diagnosed due to the lack of reliable tests.

Allergist Dr Sami Bahna, of Louisiana State University, told the annual AAAI meeting in California: ‘With the constantly increasing use of spices in our diet and a variety of cosmetics, we anticipate more and more people will develop this allergy.’

He added that women are more likely to develop the allergy due to the wide use of spice in cosmetics.
Makeup, body oils, toothpaste and fragrances can all include one or more spices. Those with birch pollen or mugwort allergy are also more prone to spice allergy.

Common spice allergy triggers include cinnamon and garlic, but can range from black pepper to vanilla.
Several spice blends contain anywhere from three to 18 spices, and the hotter the spice, the greater the chance for allergy.

In addition, spices may not be noted on food labels, making them possibly the most difficult allergen to identify or avoid.

‘Patients with spice allergy often have to go through extreme measures to avoid the allergen. This can lead to strict dietary avoidance, low quality of life and sometimes malnutrition,’ Dr Bahna said.

However the good news is that boiling, roasting, frying and other forms of applying heat to spices may reduce allergy causing agents, he added. The downside? Depending on the spice, heat may actually enhance the allergic reaction.

An allergic reaction can be caused from breathing, eating or touching spices. Symptoms range from mild sneezing to a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

Therefore, according to Dr Bahna, spice allergy should be suspected in individuals who have multiple reactions to unrelated foods, or those that react to foods when commercially prepared but not when cooked at home.

Daily Mail, London




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