Prone to allergies? Embrace a pig!

Living close to a livestock farm likely to reduce allergies, research finds

Closer proximity to pigs and cattle  lowers the risk of allergic sensitivity, according to  research published in the UK medical journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine

Closer proximity to pigs and cattle lowers the risk of allergic sensitivity, according to research published in the UK medical journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine

 

Prone to allergies? Embrace a pig! That would appear to be one solution, according to the latest study on the subject published in a medical journal.

Living close to a livestock farm “may help curb the risk of common allergies among adults who aren’t farmers or agricultural workers”, suggests research published in the UK medical journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

In particular, it found that the closer proximity to pigs and cattle, the lower the risk of allergic sensitivity.

Previous studies had indicated that growing up or working on a farm may lessen the risk of developing allergies. Whether that extended to those who don’t work in agriculture but may live close to a farm was not clear.

Dutch researchers conducted a study in the south of the Netherlands which is characterised by high farm density.

Blood analysis of people in the region revealed that just under 30 per cent had allergies. Of these, just under 12 per cent were allergic to grass and house mite dust while just over 5 per cent were allergic to cats, just under 4 per cent were allergic to dogs and just over 20 per cent indicated other allergies.

In general, the study found that those living 330 metres from any type of livestock farm were 27 per cent less likely to have allergies than those living further away.

Air pollution

And it found that people who grew up on a farm were also less likely to suffer allergies. One in three participants (33.5 per cent) in the study lived on a farm in childhood and were found to be less likely to have allergies than those who had not grown up on a farm.

The researchers concluded:”Despite concerns about the influence of air pollution from livestock farms on public health, our study found results that are indicative of potentially beneficial health effects of living in close proximity to farms.”

Meanwhile, a survey by Agri Aware, the agri-food educational body, has found that 1 in 10 Irish people have never visited a farm and that 55 per cent never had the opportunity. However, 87 per cent of the 1,000 survey respondents claimed that a visit to a farm would be beneficial to children.

The first National Open Farm Day will take place on bank holiday Monday, May 7th, next. Host farmers include the Coughlans at Buttevant, Co Cork, the Joyces of Castlebar, Co Mayo, the Shorts in Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow, and the McMahons at Fieldstown West in north Co Dublin.