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Am J Epidemiol. 2005 Aug 1;162(3):212-21. Epub 2005 Jun 29.

Cancer mortality among US men and women with asthma and hay fever.

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  • 1R. Samuel McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment, Institute of Population Health, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


The relation between self-reported physician-diagnosed asthma and/or hay fever and cancer mortality was explored in a prospective cohort study of 1,102,247 US men and women who were cancer-free at baseline. During 18 years of follow-up, from 1982 to 2000, there were 81,114 cancer deaths. Cox proportional hazards models were used to obtain adjusted relative risks for all cancer mortality and for cancer mortality at 12 sites associated with allergy indicators. There were significant inverse associations between a history of both asthma and hay fever and overall cancer mortality (relative risk (RR) = 0.88, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.83, 0.93) and colorectal cancer mortality (RR = 0.76, 95% CI: 0.64, 0.91) in comparison with persons with neither of these allergic conditions. A history of hay fever only was associated with a significantly lowered risk of pancreatic cancer mortality, and a history of asthma only was associated with a significantly lowered risk of leukemia mortality. In never smokers, these associations persisted but were no longer significant. Results for mortality from cancer at other sites were less consistent. Collectively, these results suggest an inverse association between a history of allergy and cancer mortality; however, the strength of evidence for this association is limited.

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