The New York Times had a front page article on May 12th, 2010 entitled: “Doubt is Cast on Many Reports of Food Allergies“.
The article reviewed a government report on the concept and prevalence of food allergies. From the NY times report (I have not read the article, as it is not available yet) there are some valid points (e.g., a food allergy must involve the immune system, certain food reactions are not true allergies, such as lactose intolerance). However my concern is twofold:
- The NY Times summary of the article, and perhaps the publication itself, seem at this point to ignore IgG food allergies, (which are delayed) and only focused on IgE food allergies
- The NY Times summary of the article, and perhaps the publication itself implies that many labs are of poor quality. I would agree that many labs are of poor quality, but lets be clear that this quality issue is an industry-wide problem and applies to standard laboratories such as Quest and LabCorp as well. As an example, two articles in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (about 6 years ago and 2 years ago) showed clearly that there was only one laboratory in the country doing accurate Vitamin D testing.
I know for a fact, because I routinely send in split samples to different labs, that there is at least one food allergy (IgG) lab that is reliable – ImmunoLabs. (I have no financial connection with them.) I also know that two food allergy labs, which I tested for reliability, were highly inaccurate and unable to explain their inaccuracy to me.
Delayed food allergy testing by a reliable laboratory is a very useful test when one is dealing with many chronic illnesses that have an inflammatory component. These diseases range from arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neuro-degenerative diseases, to psychosis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and mood disorders. The list of disease states that have an inflammatory component is quite long.
I am concerned that the New York Times article, and perhaps the actual publication, (yet to be released) will inhibit people form addressing one of the major pathways for inflammation-the gut and diet. Estimates are that 60% of the immune tissue in the body surrounds the gut. We are constructed this way for a very good reason-each meal we eat represents a potential antigenic assault on the body.
Robert Hedaya, M.D., D.F.A.P.A.