Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Allergies, cytokines and suicide risk

People who have severe nasal or skin allergies could have a higher risk of suicide. Researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark analyzed the medical records of 27,000 people who had killed themselves. They found that just over 1% had been hospitalized for severe nasal allergies or eczema compared to 0.8% of the general population. Although the risk of suicide was small for both groups those with severe allergies had a 33% greater risk of committing suicide. Apart from the misery caused by the allergies themselves the researchers also thought that substances called cytokines, produced during allergic reactions, could be responsible. Cytokines can have depression-promoting effects and the study found that the people with allergies who had been treated for depression and anxiety actually had a lower suicide risk. This could be because the antidepressants used to treat these conditions also have the effect of damping down cytokines.

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