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Antacids May Trigger Food Allergies

Celiac.com 03/16/2004 - According to Dr. Erika Jensen-Jarolim, professor of medicine and immunology at the University of Vienna, there may be a connection between the development of food allergies and the use of antacids. Dr. Jensen-Jarolim presented her teams preliminary findings at the World Allergy Congress on September 10, 2003. Individuals who take medications that reduce or neutralize the acidity in the stomach may be at a higher risk of developing food allergies, possibly caused by normally harmless food proteins passing in tact through the digestive system. Normally acid and pepsin break down food proteins before they pass into the digestive tract, and if Dr. Jensen-Jarolim is correct, interrupting this process could cause serious, lifelong consequences. Dozens of over the counter and prescription medications suppress acid production or neutralize it.

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The Austrian research team conducted experiments on mice which were fed hazelnut proteins and other allergens. The normal group of mice did not develop allergies to these foods, while mice that were given the ulcer drugs omeprazole (Prilosec) or ranitidine (Zantac) with the foods they ate did develop allergies to those foods. The animal results were further backed by data on 153 human patients who are taking part in a Hungarian acid-suppression therapy study.

One interesting finding in their study was that mice only developed food allergies in response to novel foods that were introduced, not to their regular daily diets. Since an estimated ten percent of the population is taking acid-suppression/neutralization medications, Dr. Jensen-Jarolim recommends that these people should not try eating any novel foods during their treatment.

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