20 Things You Didn’t Know About… Allergies

From Discover Magazine:

PeanutsCuring them by giving yourself hookworms, preventing them by putting RFID tags in your food, and avoiding them in Knoxville, the Allergy Capital of the country.

1 Our immune system may be like those small bands of Japanese “holdout” soldiers after World War II. Not knowing that the war was over, they hid for years, launching guerrilla attacks on peaceful 

2 With our living environment well scrubbed of germs, our body’s immune “soldiers” mistakenly fire on innocent peanuts and cat dander.

3 According to the National Institutes of Health, more than half of all Americans have one or more allergies.

4 The scariest allergy: penicillin, one of the most common causes of fatal anaphylaxis. The most disgusting allergy: cockroaches.

5 Most food allergies result from an immune response to a protein. In 2004 a team at Trinity College Dublin tried to counter that reaction by injecting mice with parasites, giving the animals’ immune systems the sort of threat they evolved to fight, thus distracting them from the food proteins.

6 The experiment worked.

More here.