Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Allergies

  • Kathy O’BradyEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3030-1

Synonyms

Definition

An excessive pathological reaction of the immune system towards environmental substances, such as foods and pollens, that are tolerated by the immune system of nonallergic individuals.

Introduction

Allergies have become increasingly prevalent over recent decades, particularly in the West. As a consequence, interest has grown regarding why such a phenomenon exists in the first place, especially given the risk of experiencing a potentially fatal allergic reaction called anaphylaxis (Gross 2015). Early explanations typically viewed allergies as merely immunological errors. However, the evolutionary persistence of allergic capability suggests that it has an adaptive value for the host, of which exerted a strong enough positive selection pressure to outweigh the physiological costs and risk of fatality. Margie Profet became a notable theorist for why allergies evolved with her controversial hypothesis regarding what this benefit of allergies may have...

Keywords

Allergy Symptom Positive Selection Pressure Honeybee Venom Bronchial Constriction Darwinian Medicine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Amirian, E. S., Zhou, R., Wrensch, M. R., Olson, S. H., Scheurer, M. E., Il’Yasova, D., … Bondy, M. L. (2016). Approaching a scientific consensus on the association between allergies and glioma risk: A report from the glioma international case–control study. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 25(2), 282–290. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-0847Google Scholar
  2. Gross, M. (2015). Why did evolution give us allergies? Current Biology, 25(2), R53–R55. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.01.002.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Il’yasova, D., McCarthy, B., Marcello, J., Schildkraut, J. M., Moorman, P. G., Krishnamachari, B., … Davis, F. (2009). Association between glioma and history of allergies, asthma, and eczema: A case–control study with three groups of controls. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 18(4), 1232–1238. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-08-0995Google Scholar
  4. Marichal, T., Starkl, P., Reber, L. L., Kalesnikoff, J., Oettgen, H. C., Tsai, M., … Galli, S. J. (2013). A beneficial role for immunoglobulin E in host defense against honeybee venom. Immunity, 39(5), 963–975. doi:10.1016/j.immuni.2013.10.005Google Scholar
  5. Profet, M. (1991). The function of allergy: Immunological defense against toxins. Quarterly Review of Biology, 66(1), 23–62. doi:10.1086/417049.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Sherman, P. W., Holland, E., & Shellman Sherman, J. (2008). Allergies: Their role in cancer prevention. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 83(4), 339–362. doi:10.1086/592850.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BristolBristolUK