Backwards Evolution? The Case of the Increasing Allergies

I thought I’d tell you about a little noted news report[i] that seemed to receiver remarkably little attention.   According to the nonprofit organization FAIR health, severe allergic reactions to food  skyrocketed nearly 400% over the last decade.  The researchers analyzed private insurance claims in the United States involving anaphylactic food reactions. Peanuts were the most common causative agent, followed by tree nuts and seeds, eggs, crustaceans and dairy.

Peanut allergy

This, of course, only accounts for those reactions reported to insurance companies.  Can you imagine the real number then?

According to the nonprofit, Allergy UK, more than 150 million Europeans suffer from chronic allergic diseases “…and the current prediction is that by 2025 half of the entire EU population will be affected.”[ii]

Allergy UK also points out that the UK “…has some of the highest prevalence rates of allergic conditions in the world, with over 20% of the population affected by one or more allergic disorders.”

Actually, it’s scarier than that.  “A staggering 44% of British adults now suffer from at least one allergy and the number of sufferers is on the rise…In the 20 years to 2012 there was a 615% increase in the rate of hospital admissions for anaphylaxis in the UK.”

Back to that ABC News report on US food allergy rates:  their Chief Medical contributor, Dr. Jennifer Ashton says that “…it’s difficult to determine exactly why the numbers are increasing.  It appears to be the result of environmental factors, but our own immunology may be evolving and changing as well.”

Wait…what?  We’re evolving into a species that can die by coming into contact with a peanut?  That is…we’re reverse evolving?!

I wonder what Charles Darwin would have to say about that.
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[i] http://abcnews.go.com/Health/severe-food-allergy-cases-skyrocketed-past-decade-study/story?id=49345305

[ii] https://www.allergyuk.org/information-and-advice/statistics


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