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Cigarette Smoke Makes Allergy Symptoms Worse

Immune antibody levels soared in allergic individuals, study found

THURSDAY, June 22, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- People allergic to typical triggers such as ragweed may be especially bothered by cigarette smoke, a new study says.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, studied 19 people who were allergic to ragweed. Participants had their nasal passages rinsed with a solution, and the fluid was collected and examined so that researchers could measure levels of an allergy-linked antibody called IgE.

After the rinsing, patients were exposed to either secondhand cigarette smoke or smoke-free air, and their nasal passages were then rinsed and studied again. The process was repeated with exposure to ragweed and uncontaminated air, and fluids were again examined.

At the four-day point, levels of IgE had risen 16.6 times higher in patients exposed to ragweed plus cigarette smoke, as compared to those only exposed to ragweed and clean air. Histamine levels were also 3.3 times higher in participants who breathed the ragweed and smoke.

The results suggest that people with allergies are especially affected by cigarette smoke and should avoid smoking, the research team said. They should also reduce their exposure to secondhand smoke.

More information

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation has more information on allergies and smoking.

SOURCES: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, news release, June 14, 2006
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