New research suggests that sensitivity to common food allergens, such as dairy and peanuts, may be an unrecognized and significant cause of heart disease. This can even affect individuals without obvious food allergies. The study by UVA Health scientists found that people who produced antibodies, specifically IgE (Immunoglobulin E) antibodies in response to dairy, were at an increased risk of cardiovascular-related death. About fifteen of adults produce IgE antibodies in response to foods such as cow's milk and peanuts. This risk remained the same even after taking into factor the traditional heart disease risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The strongest association was observed with cow's milk, but allergens like peanuts and shrimp also showed a notable link to increased cardiovascular death. While the research does not fully prove that food antibodies cause the risk, it builds on previous studies connecting allergic inflammation to heart disease, suggesting that even silent immune responses to food might lead to chronic inflammation and heart-related problems.
The findings are raising interesting questions about the potential impact of food allergies on heart health. While the link between food antibodies and cardiovascular mortality is a significant discovery, many questions remain unanswered. It is unclear whether other genetic or environmental factors play a role in this connection and more studies are necessary in order to take action. The researchers hope that in the future blood tests could help provide personalized information about a heart-healthy diet, but this is still a subject of ongoing exploration.