History of allergic disease and epilepsy and risk of glioma and meningioma (INTERPHONE study group, Germany)

Eur J Epidemiol. 2009;24(8):433-40. doi: 10.1007/s10654-009-9355-6. Epub 2009 May 31.


The aim of the present analysis was to examine the association of a medical history of asthma, hay fever, eczema, or epilepsy with the risk of glioma and meningioma. Data of a German population-based case-control study included 381 meningioma cases, 366 glioma cases, and 1,494 controls. Participants' histories of asthma, hay fever, eczema, and epilepsy and the respective ages at onset were asked during a personal interview. A small inverse association between allergic condition and both glioma (odds ratio: 0.92; 95% CI: 0.70-1.22) and meningioma (odd ratio: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.66-1.14) was found. For glioma, this inverse association was more pronounced in persons reporting to have asthma compared to other allergic conditions. The positive association between epilepsy and particularly glioma suggests that epilepsy is an early symptom of the disease. As the association was seen also for epilepsies occurring more than a decade before the diagnosis of glioma, this might indicate either an aetiological role of epilepsy, or a relatively long preclinical phase. In conclusion our study confirms previous findings of case control studies but not those from cohort studies. However, possible selection bias in case control studies might not explain the different results in its entirety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Brain Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Epilepsy / complications*
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Glioma / epidemiology
  • Glioma / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / complications*
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Meningioma / epidemiology
  • Meningioma / etiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors