Allergy and risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia among children: a nationwide case control study in Greece

Cancer Epidemiol. 2013 Apr;37(2):146-51. doi: 10.1016/j.canep.2012.10.012. Epub 2012 Nov 21.


Background: Several reports point to inverse associations between allergies and ALL; yet, no study has explored this link using both self-reported-data on allergic history and biomarkers of atopic sensitization.

Methods: Clinical information for the variables of interest was available for 252 out of 292 cases of childhood (0-14 years) ALL, newly diagnosed across Greece over a 4.5 year period as well as for 294 hospital controls. Allergen-specific-IgEs, as markers of allergic predisposition, against 24 most prevalent respiratory and food allergens, were determined, using an enzyme immunoassay procedure for 199 children with ALL and 113 controls. Cases were compared with controls through frequency distributions and unconditional multiple logistic regression models to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence-intervals (CIs) regarding associations of allergy with childhood ALL.

Results: Self-reported-allergic history overall (OR: 0.49, 95% CI: 0.34-0.72) and practically each one of its main components (respiratory, food, any other clinical allergy) were strongly and inversely associated with ALL. Likewise, the serum IgE inverse association was of the same magnitude (OR: 0.43, 95% CI: 0.22-0.84) mainly contributed by food IgE (OR: 0.39, 95% CI: 0.18-0.83).

Conclusion: Beyond the already established inverse association of allergic history with childhood ALL, a same magnitude association is evident when serologic markers of allergic predisposition are used as an alternative measure of allergy. Further research with more appropriate study designs is needed to better understand possible associations between prior allergy and childhood ALL risk.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Greece / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / blood
  • Hypersensitivity / complications*
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood*
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / blood
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / epidemiology
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / etiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Immunoglobulin E