Allergies are not myths

The December issue of Chatelaine magazine features an article headlined, It’s just nuts.

The December issue of Chatelaine magazine features an article headlined, It’s just nuts.

The story, dealing mostly with peanut allergies, suggests that “parents are overreacting to food allergies, anaphylactic reactions aren’t as common as people think, and that death rates are low,” according to CTV.

Now, no one would mistake Chatelaine magazine for a bastion of serious journalism like the New York Times or CNN. But, all the same, the Chatelaine article has the potential to endanger Canadian children.

There is a genuine risk that readers will take the article to heart and figure there’s no need to keep peanuts away from children who have allergies.

CTV notes that a girl named Sabrina Shannon died six years ago, at age 13, from an allergic reaction to french fries contaminated with dairy at her school in Pembroke, Ont.

The girl’s mother, Sara Shannon, has since become an activist for those suffering from anaphylaxis (a sudden, severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction caused by food allergy, insect stings or medications).

In an era when more people put faith in TV personalities like Oprah Winfrey than they do in medical professionals, there appears to be a growing risk of people getting sucked in by misinformation.

If you want some lovely recipes for Christmas, go ahead and pick up Chatelaine magazine.

But if you’re serious about finding out accurate medical information, you’d be much better off consulting your physician.

Yet, in this age of skepticism, people seem to doubt reputable authorities – like doctors and nurses. Instead, they put their faith in talk-show hosts, faith healers and herbalists with next to no education.

That’s a recipe for disaster.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says peanut allergy is the most common cause of food-related death; yet, the article in Chatelaine might lead readers to dismiss the danger as a myth.

Peanut allergies are believed to affect about one in 100 people: obviously, a lot of people.

Each year, an estimated one death per 830,000 children with food allergies occurs.

Obviously, more people are sickened by allergies than are killed; however, the matter must be taken seriously because these instances are largely preventable.

There’s no reason for anyone to take peanuts or food products containing peanuts into a school or workplace, but people who don’t understand the risk to those with allergies will do that from time to time.

Perhaps they wouldn’t if they were better educated by government or other organizations involved in health care. Then again, some people just don’t care if they endanger other people, and there’s probably not much that can be done with people who don’t care.

As for Chatelaine, the magazine has declined an invitation for an interview from CTV.

“If we feel it is appropriate to respond, we will do so in the pages of our magazine,” wrote Chatelaine’s Suneel Khanna.

Talk about cowardly! Chatelaine magazine should be ashamed.

Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.

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