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People with food allergies less likely to die from them than thought

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Although the rate of food allergies in the U.S. and worldwide is going up quickly, statistics still show that the likelihood of dying from a food allergy reaction is very low.

Researchers at the Imperial College of London used data from 13 studies from around the globe to extrapolate risks associated with allergies and reactions. The chances of dying from a food allergy reaction is 1.81 in 1 million for those over age 19 and is 3.25 per million for children under age 19.

A surprisingly low risk

The risk of being murdered in Europe is 11 in 1 million, and the risk of accidental death is 324 per million per year. Statistically, there are many things other than allergies that are more likely to kill us.

"We don't want to belittle the concerns of people with food allergies or their families," said Dr. Robert Boyle, who led the studies, "and of course people should continue to take reasonable precautions. That said, we want to reassure them that having a food allergy makes a very small difference to someone's overall risk of death."

One of the higher risks associated with food allergies, says Boyle, are the side-effects associated with the anxiety that often accompanies food allergies, especially severe ones.

"Worrying about severe allergic reactions can take a huge toll on someone's quality of life," he said. "We should address anxiety and quality of life for food allergic people and their carers, rather than just focus on the risk of death."

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