Are men healthier than women when it comes
to allergies and asthma? Is one sex genetically at higher risk for chronic
allergic illness? There are many differences between men and women. And when it
comes down to health, one gender seems to be more prone to allergies and
According to a presentation being given at
the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and
Immunology (ACAAI), adult females are at higher risk for allergies, asthma and
"More prepubescent males have
rhinitis, asthma and food allergy than females," said presenter Renata
Engler, MD, allergist and ACAAI Fellow. "However, roles change. When
females enter young adulthood, they outnumber men in these chronic illness
Importance of sex differences
Why are women at higher risk for allergy
and asthma post puberty? The reasons for gender-differences in disease risk and
immune responses are complex and vary with age. IgG immune responses to
vaccines are enhanced in women compared to men but IgE levels are actually
higher in asthmatic men than in women. The important message is that in order
to improve personalized care of patients, improving understanding and impact of
gender diversity on diagnosis, treatment and outcomes is needed. One size fits
all is not the best approach.
"The importance of sex differences in
the practice of allergy-immunology cannot be overstated," said Dr. Engler.
"Improved sex/gender based medicine and research practices will benefit
men and women alike."
Genetics, aside from sex hormones, play a
role in determining who will develop allergy and asthma. According to ACAAI, if
parents have either of these chronic illnesses, their children are at an
In her presentation, Dr Engler stated
personalized medicine is more than just in the genes. Because allergy and
asthma manifest in each person differently, it is important sufferers see an
allergist. Proper treatment involves more than just relieving symptoms, but
finding the source of the suffering and developing individualized care plans to
avoid symptom triggers.