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Monday, 5 March 2012

Endometriosis Awareness Month: Part 2

Onto an article so fresh off the presses its publication date is listed as April. This is a study conducted at the Yale University School of Medicine in the US and it examines the occurrence of allergies in women with endometriosis. This study took 501 women with surgically confirmed endometriosis and 188 women without endo and compared the occurrence and history of allergies in the two groups. What this study found was that women with endometriosis are a little over four times more likely to suffer from allergies than women without endo. Women with endo were significantly more likely to suffer from asthma, sinus allergic rhinitis and have a stronger family history of allergies.

Why might this be the case? Unfortunately, it’s not entirely clear at the moment; we know that in women with endometriosis the immune system can malfunction, either by under or over reacting. When it under reacts it allows endometriotic cells to grow, whereas normally the immune system should destroy them. When it overreacts it can produce autoantibodies, which are basically markers that tell the body to attack itself, which has implications for fertility.

Unfortunately the good news doesn’t end there. Another study from Denmark found that women with endometriosis were also more likely to suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. This study took patient records from 1977-2007, amassing an impressive 37,661 records in total, to look at the occurrence of these conditions in women with endometriosis. Although the increase in risk was relatively small (increasing less than twofold), the reason/s why women with endo are more susceptible to these conditions is also not (surprise, surprise) completely clear. It could be that the same immune dysfunctions that cause the increase in allergies among women with endo are responsible. If anyone finds out for certain though, I’ll make sure you’re the first to know.

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