New research suggests sensitivity to common food allergens such as dairy and peanuts could be an important and previously unappreciated cause of heart disease, and the increased risk for cardiovascular death even includes people without obvious food allergies.
UVA Health scientists and their collaborators looked at thousands of adults over time and found that people who produced antibodies in response to dairy and other foods were at elevated risk of cardiovascular-related death. This was true even when traditional risk factors for heart disease, such as smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes, were taken into account.
“What we looked at here was the presence of IgE antibodies to food that were detected in blood samples,” said researcher Dr. Jeffrey Wilson, an allergy and immunology expert at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. “We don’t think most of these subjects actually had overt food allergy. Thus, our story is more about an otherwise silent immune response to food. While these responses may not be strong enough to cause acute allergic reactions to food, they might nonetheless cause inflammation and over time lead to problems like heart disease.”