Parasitic Gut Worms May Protect Against Allergies
There is a link between having parasitic worms in your stomach and being protected from allergies, shows a new study conducted in Vietnam.
The study looked for a link between hookworm and other types of parasitic worms and the rates of allergies in humans. The researchers gave Vietnamese children in an area where two thirds have worms a de-worming medicine, and found that they suffered from a higher rate of allergies than their peers.
The scientists think that the gut worm may have formed a sort of symbiotic relationship with its host over millions of years of co-existence. The theory is that the worm strengthens the human host's immune system, therefore also prolonging its own life.
This relationship seems to have become so intertwined that without gut worms or other parasites, our immune system can become unbalanced, which, in turn, could contribute to the development of asthma and other allergies.
Researcher Dr Carsten Flohr, of the University of Nottingham, said: "The next step is to understand exactly how and when gut parasites programme the human immune system in a way that protects against allergies, and for such studies, follow-up from birth will be essential."