A new study funded by the Food Standards Agency has found that exercise and sleep deprivation can make people with peanut allergies more sensitive. The allergy research team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital discovered that each of these factors can significantly reduce the threshold of reactivity (the amount of peanut needed to trigger a reaction) in people with peanut allergy, putting them at greater risk of a reaction.
The TRACE study is hugely significant as one in every 100 adults and one in 50 children have peanut allergies- the most common cause of fatal allergic reactions.
More than 126 adults from the peanut allergic population took part in the study, which investigated whether ordinary factors, such as such as exercise and sleep deprivation, can control the threshold of responses to common allergenic foods. Participants were given a peanut challenge where they were given increasing amounts of peanut flour to eat until they developed an allergic reaction which was treated quickly. This challenge was repeated when they were exercising and when they were sleep-deprived. The FSA also stated that the work could be applied to other foods.
Chair of the FSA Heather Hancock said: “The FSA commissioned and funded this ground-breaking research because we want to significantly improve the understanding of everyday impacts that can contribute to an allergic reaction… It’s impossible to remove the allergy risk for people, but these findings give us essential evidence. In future, it could support precautionary allergen labelling so people will know exactly when a food poses a real risk to them which can increase the trust they have in their food.”
Anaphylaxis Campaign CEO Lynne Regent said: “We were delighted to be asked to work with the Food Standards Agency on this study and hope that further exploration of the findings will enable us to identify key issues where we can provide information and support, as many people in the general population still do not understand just how serious allergy and anaphylaxis can be.”
Dr Andrew Clark, of the Cambridge University Hospital allergy support team and chief investigator, described the TRACE study as a “team effort” with the National Institute for Health Research/Welcome Trust Cambridge Clinical Research Facility (Cambridge UK), Royal Brompton& Harefield NHS Foundation Trust Clinical Research Facility (London) and the University of Manchester all contributing.