According to a new study that was published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, women are more likely than men to have food allergies. The study looked at 2.7 million adults and children who got care at a health facility in the Boston area between 2000 and 2013. Researchers don’t know why women are more prone to food allergies, just that they are. Along with women, Asians are also the most likely to have a food allergy.
There is some good news, though: Although rates of food allergies have gone up in the past decade, only 3.6 percent of Americans actually have a food allergy. That’s not great, since everyone should really be able to eat whatever they want, but that’s a lot less than researchers previously believed.
Of the almost 100,000 patients that had food allergies or an intolerance, about half showed symptoms like a rash, coughing, or vomiting. There were only 16 percent that had super-serious anaphylactic reactions. The researchers concluded that even given that low-sounding number, a lot more tests have to be created and done on children to identify food allergies as soon as possible (because no one wants to be surprised by a severe peanut allergy).
According to the study, the most common allergies were to shellfish, fruits or vegetables, dairy, and peanuts. Scientists are still really stumped as to why it’s usually those certain food groups that can hurt humans. To treat allergies, doctors are doing some crazy, state of the art work, too, like Dr. Kari Nadeau, the director of the Stanford Alliance for Food Allergy Research. Her team is trying eradicate food allergies by desensitizing people to their food allergies. It’s risky, but over time, she’ll administer trace amounts of the food. The goal is that eventually, the body will build up its own defense to the allergy.
It’s going to be a few more years until that’s a reality, though. For now, just make sure you know what you and your friends are allergic to so you don’t hurt each other at a summer picnic — especially if those friends are women and more likely to be affected.