Newspaper article with PA statistics

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This was published in the Winnipeg Free Press today...interesting....

Skin creams linked to allergies

Wed, Jun 6, 2001 TORONTO -- Skin creams containing peanut oil may be a factor in the 100 per cent increase in potentially fatal nut allergies over the past decade.

British researchers found nine out of 10 children with a peanut allergy also suffered from eczema, a disease than leaves skin raw and blistered. They think skin creams that contain nut oil may trigger the allergic reaction.

"In eczema, the skin barrier breaks down and there is an abundance of immune cells in the skin that could be exposed to substances that cause allergies," Dr. Gideon Lack, of St. Mary's Hospital in London said at a conference Monday.

The finding may be cause for concern, because topical creams that are sold in Canada -- for cosmetic or medicinal purposes -- are not required by federal authorities to list peanut oil as an ingredient.

The British research is part of a 10-year study of children in southwestern England looking at the genetic and environmental causes of illness. The scientists were surprised to find one in 100 children is allergic to nuts, a much higher rate than previously estimated.

Proportions doubled

Nut allergies are the most common cause of fatal allergic reactions to food in Canada, killing about 10 people a year.

As little as 1/1,000th of a peanut can trigger anaphylaxis, the life-threatening allergic reaction that can constrict airways in the lungs, severely lower blood pressure, and cause swelling of the tongue or throat, suffocating victims.

"In the past 10 years, the proportion of kids in general who have peanut allergy has doubled, and that's in large part because the exposure to peanut-containing products at a susceptible age has increased a great deal," says Dr. Peter Vadas, a professor of allergy and immunology at the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital.

"So kids who are exposed at a susceptible age are more likely to acquire a peanut allergy."

He added that "eczema is a form of allergic disease, and kids who have one form of allergic disease are more prone to getting other forms of allergic disease, whether it's food allergy like peanuts, or whether it's asthma or hay fever type symptoms. These things all travel together in a package."

However, Vadas said creams that contain nut oil are less common in Canada than in England.

"In England, there are numerous oils used for dry skin that are peanut-based," he said.

-- Canadian Press

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