Dr. Summit Shah

Dr. Summit Shah

Doctors and scientists have long suspected a connection between asthma and diabetes, as it has appeared that people with one of these conditions tend to be at higher risk for the other. What researchers have not been clear on is the strength of the relationship and whether asthma makes it more likely to develop diabetes or vice versa.

Scientists at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland have now helped to clarify the relationship between type-1 diabetes and asthma. Rather than a simple link where the presence of one condition increases the likelihood of the other, the link between diabetes and asthma is apparently more complicated. Whereas having asthma increased the risk for type-1 diabetes by about 41% in the subjects studied, having type-1 diabetes actually decreased the risk of developing asthma. The magnitude of the reduced risk for asthma was about 18%.

The researchers investigated health records from 171,138 children who were born between 1981 and 2008. From this sample, which represented 10% of the Finnish population born in that time frame, the researchers identified 80,871 children who were diagnosed with asthma and 8,939 with type-1diabetes by the age of 16. Both conditions were present in 602 of these children.

The purchase of insulin and anti-asthmatic drugs helped researchers determine children’s diagnoses. To perform their analysis, the researchers divided children into groups based on their birth years and looked at 4 age groups: 0-3, 4-7 8-11, and 12-16. The relationships between diabetes and asthma were revealed in all age groups.

While the study provided novel insights into the link between diabetes and asthma, it also contained some limitations. For one, not all the diagnoses were confirmed. Second, there was limited information on any other conditions that the patients may have had. Similarly, the researchers did not have information on when the patients developed their conditions.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Johanna Metsala, recently presented these findings at the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Congress. The discussion at the meeting provided more insights into how scientists can further clarify the link between diabetes and asthma in the future. Researchers are particularly interested in determining whether food allergies may also be linked to diabetes.

 

When most people think of food allergies, they think of things like nuts, eggs, or shellfish. However, red meat has been causing more allergic reactions in recent years, and the culprit is a sugar molecule found in red meat called galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, or alpha-gal. The picture is complicated by the fact that people do not tend to be naturally allergic to the sugar molecule found in red meat but instead become allergic to it after experiencing a tick bite.

The tick that leads to the red meat allergy has been linked to the lone star tick, which has a white spot in the shape of Texas on its back and is generally found in the southeastern United States. Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills, a lead allergy research from the University of Virginia helped to identify this critical link after he himself developed the meat allergy.

When Platts-Mills heard that an effective cancer drug, called cetuximab, was causing allergy-like side effects in 10x more people living in the southeastern United States than those living elsewhere, he decided to partner with Bristol-Myers Squibb, the drug’s distributor, to conduct blood tests. He found that all the cancer patients experiencing this reaction had pre-existing antibodies to the alpha-gal sugar. The sugar was indeed found in abundance in cetuximab.

What was causing people living in the southeastern United States to develop this sensitivity to alpha-gal sugar? The area where these cancer patients lived mapped on to the same geographical area where Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a disease carried by the lone star tick, occurs. With this clue, Platts-Mils screened more patients with meat allergies, and his studies revealed that 80% of these patients had reported tick bites. The tick bites resulted in 20x more antibodies to the alpha-gal sugar.

While Platts-Mills’ work helped to reveal the role of tick bites in red meat allergies and the allergic reaction to cetuximab, the mechanism by which the bite confers this sensitivity to the alpha-gal sugar is not yet understood. Some researchers have suggested that a virus or bacteria carried in the tick’s saliva may cause the change in the immune system of those who have been bitten.

A former member of Platts-Mills’ team at the University of Virginia is now conducted research on mice at the University of North Carolina to improve our understanding of how ticks cause these allergies. Now that more red meat allergies are being reported outside the southeastern United States – namely in Duluth, Minnesota, the eastern tip of Long Island, and Hanover, New Hampshire, one important question researchers are interested in is whether the lone star tick has traveled to new parts of the country, or if instead ticks of other species now cause the red meat allergies. Research that improves our understanding of how exactly ticks enable these allergies will hopefully enable us to develop effective interventions to reduce the suffering that accompanies these allergies.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012 00:00

‘Tis the Season For Allergy Testing

asthma-inhaler-300x199Runny noses and sniffles aren’t exactly rare this time of year; colds and the flu run rampant among adults and children alike. After the twentieth sneeze or so, chances are you’ll pop a sinus pill, load up on Kleenex, and plop yourself in front of the fire to watch another holiday-themed movie. Sometimes this works, but sometimes there’s something a bit more complicated going on that might require allergy testing. Ohio has an allergen-friendly climate, and often people go years without realizing they have seasonal allergies. If a cold and sinus medication hasn’t been doing the trick, and symptoms seem to drag on for days or weeks, you may be suffering from allergies.  

Cabot Rea: If you have allergies, the worst season could be on our doorstep.

Colleen Marshall: Central Ohio is a hotspot for seasonal allergies. In For Your Health tonight, Ellie Merritt is going to tell us what to expect. Ellie, I hear it’s going to be a bad one.

Ellie: Yes, allergy season comes on fast and furious and while it is chilly outside today, doctors are expecting seasonal allergies to be earlier this year. And you’re right, Colleen, much more intense. Blame the weather. Get ready for the sneezing.

Friday, 16 November 2012 00:00

Winter Allergies

Just because the seasons change, that doesn’t mean your symptoms will.

Most of us enjoy summer’s perks; it’s the season of long nights, bikinis, and pints of beer on the patio. But summer is also the season of pollen, and for the unlucky among us that means sneezing, runny noses, and dry, itchy eyes. If that sounds like you, you might happily trade warm weather and sunshine for early evenings and chill winds, if it comes with the promise of symptom relief.

If you’re an allergy sufferer you might eagerly anticipate the transition between summer and fall. So when temperatures drop to the low thirties and your nose is still as red as Rudolph’s, you probably feel a bit cheated. Isn’t summer supposed to be allergy season? Shouldn’t it all be over when the ground turns white?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013 00:00

Spring Allergies

spring-allergies-ohio-300x200The urge to spend time outdoors is never greater than in the early days of spring. The days start to get longer, the snow melts away, the sun comes out and gardens bloom. But when some of us pull off our winter boots and stop to smell the roses, we’re hit with the reality of our spring: runny noses, sneezing, coughing, and itchy, watery eyes.  

columbus-allergies-300x199A link between eating, exercising and a severe allergic reaction?

Dr. Shah seems to have found just that throughout his observations and findings that he presented at the World Allergy Conference. Throughout studies of exercising without eating beforehand and eating without exercise – Dr. Shah found that patients seem to have no unique allergic reaction. Yet when patients combine eating a particular food or meal, then partaking in some form of exercise right after, an anaphylactic or severe reaction of some sort has taken place. Sparking a clue into the reason behind this happening could be the increase in blood flow and absorption in the stomach while exercising, thus bringing to life an allergic reaction.

Dr. Shah presented his findings on Food Allergies and Exercise at the recent XXII World Allergy Congress, where he spoke on the importance of waiting 60 minutes after eating before exercise.  

Columbus, OH (PRWEB) June 26, 2012  

In December, Dr. Summit Shah, allergist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, was asked to present his findings on food allergies and Exercise at the XXII World Allergy Congress. In his presentation, the Ohio allergist cautioned individuals to be mindful of reactions with food allergies and exercise.

Monday, 07 May 2012 00:00

Accelerated Allergy Shots

A ground breaking research study by Dr. Summit Shah on accelerated allergy shots has been in the news! Dr. Shah’s study shows quicker results and no increased reaction rate using rush immunotherapy for treatment of allergies and asthma.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013 00:00

Gearing Up for Spring Allergies

Ohio allergist Dr. Patel appeared on Fox 28 news to discuss the upcoming allergy season. Experts predict this year to be the worst allergy season to date. There are a few reasons why you can expect your allergies to begin acting up:

  • The long and wet winter set up perfect conditions for mold growth–a common allergen. 
  • With global warming, we are now experiencing more carbon dioxide in the air. This helps to nourish the plants, triggering more pollen production. 
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