Cancer risk in patients with allergic rhinitis, asthma and atopic dermatitis: a nationwide cohort study in Taiwan

Int J Cancer. 2012 Mar 1;130(5):1160-7. doi: 10.1002/ijc.26105. Epub 2011 May 30.


It has long been a debate that whether atopy is a risk factor or protective factor for cancer. However, no large-scale study of different cancers in patients with atopic diseases has been conducted among Asians. Here, we conducted a nationwide study to evaluate the cancer risk in patients with allergic rhinitis (AR), asthma and atopic dermatitis (AD). Drawing on Taiwan's National Health Insurance Research Database, 225,315 patients with AR, 107,601 patients with asthma and 34,263 patients with AD without prior cancers were identified in the period from 1996 to 2008. The standard incidence ratio (SIR) of each cancer was calculated. Although the overall cancer risks in patients with atopic symptoms were not increased, the risks were slightly elevated in female patients with AR or asthma (SIR: 1.13 and 1.08, AR and asthma, respectively) and slightly decreased in males patients with AR. Those aged 20-39 years-old possessed the highest risk. A higher risk of developing brain cancer was found in patients with atopic diseases, and patient with AR or asthma also had an elevated risk of developing cancer of kidney and urinary bladder. In contrast, the risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer was lower in patients with AR and asthma. Compared to patients with only one atopic disease, those with more than one atopic disease had lower cancer risks. Our data suggests that the association between atopy and cancer is site-specific.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Taiwan