Friday, July 11, 2014

Could Antihistamines Help Fight Cancer?

Antihistamines are medications used to prevent or relieve symptoms of allergies, including hay fever, atopic eczema, and reactions from insect bites and hives.

The drugs work by stopping the release of histamine – a substance produced by the body that causes watery eyes, itching, sneezing, runny nose and breathing problems.

A research team, including Daniel H. Conrad, PhD, of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Virginia Commonwealth University, recently published their findings in The Journal of Leukocyte Biology. They found that as antihistamines do their job, they also interfere with the function of myeloid-derived suppressor cells – a type of cell known to hinder the body’s ability to combat tumors – meaning a new cancer drug candidate may be in the cards.

The research team analyzed two groups of mice. In one group, they triggered a strong allergic response by infecting them with a rodent intestinal helminth, while the other group of mice had tumors.

The allergic mice were then injected with myeloid-derived suppressor cells and treated with one of two antihistamines – cetirizine or cimetidine. The mice with the tumors were also injected with the cells but were only treated with the antihistamine cimetidine.

The researchers found that in the allergic mice, the antihistamines reversed the effects of the myeloid-derived suppressor cells. However, in the mice with tumors, the antihistamine not only reversed the effects of the cells, but also reversed the increased tumor growth that the cells normally trigger.

The team also analyzed the blood of patient with and without allergies. They found that those with allergies – who usually have a higher release of histamine – had higher levels of myeloid-derived suppressor cells circulating in their blood.

Commenting on the team’s findings, John Werry, PhD, deputy editor of The Journal of Leukocyte Biology, says: “Antihistamines may be one of the most commonly used over-the-counter drugs, but this report shows that we still have much to learn about their potential benefits.

This is good research, but the interpretation really misses the mark. The body also produces antihistamines. It produces histamines as an allergic response, and antihistamines to reduce or curtail that response. I think the researchers should be looking at ways to support the body’s antihistamine pathways rather than look for new ways to use old drugs.

Folic acid, vitamin B6, betaine, and quercitin are all enzymes that are vital to the chemical pathways of antihistamine production in the body. Adequate adrenal function is also important.

Deficiencies of these vitamins are common place and virtually all of us suffer some degree of adrenal fatigue. It is interesting to note that Methotrexate, one of the most common chemotherapy drugs, actually impairs folic acid metabolism in an effort to stop tumor growth. However, it also impairs all healthy cell reproduction as well.
I also question the blood testing of patients with allergies. If they take the antihistamine drugs, one would think their levels of myeloid-derived suppressor cells would be lower rather than higher. Again, the focus should be on the body’s antihistamine response.

Antihistamines can provide significant levels of relief for those suffering from allergy issues. However, long term it is important to correct the chemical imbalances that create all those symptoms. Doing so may even help prevent certain cancers.

Source: Medical News Today –Tuesday, July 1, 2014