Very few people, if any, would think of their allergies as a blessing. Sniffling, sneezing and difficulty breathing are hardly symptoms to rejoice over, but a new research study shows that there may be a hidden health benefit to allergies. The study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention suggests that the more allergies one has, the less likely they are to develop gliomas, tumors that grow in the brain or on the spine.

Gliomas are the most common type of tumor found in the brain. The study looked at information from 419 patients that had glioma and 612 who did not. The participants self-reported their allergies by type and severity, as well as their antihistamine use.

The study shows a correlation between allergies and a decreased risk for gliomas, but according to the study author, Dr. Melissa Bondy of the University of Chicago, the correlation does not prove that it is a direct connection. Other studies, but not all, have picked up on similar results.

In this study, Bondy and her colleagues also found that the use of antihistamines to treat allergies led to a higher risk of developing glioma, however the self-reporting nature of the study leaves a significant margin of error as some people could not remember dosages or types of medications, or may have forgotten to include some allergies. The team is recruiting another 6,000 cases and 6,000 controls for a large scale, controlled study. Until then, keep taking your medication as prescribed for your allergies.

Ramie Tritt, M.D., President, Atlanta ENT.