The CBC ( Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) had a really informative documentary recently on their Passionate Eye program called Allergy Planet. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware that the documentary was on and I only caught the last half hour.
What I did see was fascinating. What I thought was really interesting was that scientistis believe the antibody Immunoglobulin E (IgE) was created in the body to fight parasites. Since our bodies generally no longer fight parasites, the IgE has turned on what should be innocuous substances such as food, creating a surge in food allergies but also in other immune diseases such as asthma. This gives further credence to the Hygiene Theory.
I saw a small part of the program that followed a woman who believed she had allergies and sensitivities to essentially everything from the car steering wheel to her fridge and wore gloves and used oxygen constantly. While scientific studies hadn’t been able to bear out all of those allergies, she felt she couldn’t cope in the outside world and had isolated herself to get some relief.
One portion of the program dealt with scientific studies of Barbados due to the significant increase in asthma and allergies there over the last several decades. So far, the studies have shown that the air pollution is non-existent on the island due to its isolation. Conclusions drawn from the studies so far seem to indicate that modernization (including better hygiene) and genetics seem to be creating the perfect storm for asthma and allergies to explode. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7766656.stm for further information on this particular issue.
Overall, the portion of the documentary I saw was very well done and I’ll try to keep an eye on when it might be on again. You can also watch the schedule for your own interest at: http://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/passionateeyemonday/2009/allergyplanet/.