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Tuesday, 08 April 2014 10:34

Food Allergy

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Educating the World about the Deadly Danger of Food Allergies

Interview with Food Allergy Research & Education CEO John Lehr

Potentially deadly food allergies affect one in 13 children in the United States, or roughly two in every classroom. Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) is a nonprofit organization that works on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergies, including those at the risk of life-threatening anaphylaxis (an extreme and often life-threatening allergic reaction to an antigen). Tokyo Journal International Editor Anthony Al-Jamie met with FARE CEO John Lehr.

TJ: Do you know what causes food allergies?
LEHR: Food allergies have been around for a long time. What’s unusual is the dramatic increase in industrialized or developed countries, as well as the increase in developing countries. In the United States, there are eight major food allergens [milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans], but in countries like Japan, there is a specific food, soba noodles, that is more common as a food allergen than is common here, and in Israel, sesame is a very common allergy. If you ask the leading scientists at the National Institutes of Health in the United States what is causing the dramatic increase in food allergies, there are a lot of theories but no definitive answer. There are, I think, many implications. There is certainly a genetic component to it and there is an environmental component to it. In terms of research that we’re helping to support, we’re looking at a lot of twin studies, but there is a hygiene hypothesis, a vitamin-D hypothesis, cesarean VS natural birth....

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