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Are Food Allergies on the Rise?

They sure seem to be. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies grew by 18% between 1997 and 2007, now affect some 15 million people, but why?

Recent studies point to our drinking water as a possible culprit. That’s right, your tap water could make you more susceptible to peanut allergies as well as milk, egg, shellfish and many other food allergies.

In a recent study published in the December issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, Dr. Elina Jerschow, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York as well as colleagues analyzed stacks of medical records of patients 6 years old and older and believe they found a possible connection.

What they found starts with what seems to be a link between certain pesticides and food allergies. Dr. Jerschow explains, “Our research shows that high levels of dichlorophenol-containing pesticides can possibly weaken food tolerance in some people, causing food allergy.”

So, how does this link back to drinking water? Well, levels of these particular pesticides, which are typically used by farmers but are also found in many residential insect and weed control products, were found in patients’ urine which most likely found its way into their bodies through contaminated drinking water.

“Previous studies have shown that both food allergies and environmental pollution are increasing in the United States”, said Dr. Jerschow. “The result of our study suggest these two trends might be linked and that increasing use of pesticides and other chemicals is associated with a higher prevalence of food allergies.”

Does this mean you need to start buying bottled water in bulk? Well, you need to make that decision yourself and in consultation with your physician. Certainly, though the study indicates an association, the link between dichlorophenol-containing pesticides and food allergies is yet to be proven. You also need to know that your drinking water isn’t the only concern. These same pesticides are found in many of our fruits and vegetables as well.

Want to know more about food allergies? Visit our Education section for more information. BreatheAmerica centers are designed to use the latest tools to determine, specifically, what is at the root of your allergies, sinusitis, asthma or other breathing problems. Then, we design and discuss with you a plan, specific to you, to give back the life you deserve.