How Real Is the Peanut Allergy Threat?

When I was a kid there were never any restrictions on what we could or could not bring to school in our lunch.  Nor had I ever encountered or even for that matter heard about an allergic reaction to say peanut butter.  So here is the question . . . Are peanut allergies real?

According to studies of the 30,000 people who are hospitalized each year for purported food reactions only 2,000 are actual allergic reactions, with 150 people dying from a severe anaphylaxis shock.

As a point of reference, this is the same number of people killed by bee stings and lightning strikes combined.

In fact, a greater risk to our children is head trauma injuries due to their participation in organized sports for which 10,000 people are hospitalized every year.  I wonder if organized sports will be banned in the not too distant futureÉ

In short, and according to experts, the real culprit behind the peanut risk is what is referred to as being “mass psychogenic illness,” otherwise known as hysterical reactions grossly out of proportion to the level of real danger.  A danger, experts contend that has been fanned by media sensationalism.

So . . . is the peanut as much of a threat as we think and, are we ultimately paying premium prices for goods which bear the no peanut insignia for a risk that is less of a threat than being struck by lightning?

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10 Responses to “How Real Is the Peanut Allergy Threat?”
  1. suzanneshS says:

    One of my favorite childhood memories is when I spent time researching the life and success of George Washington Carver. I live in “Da Hood” and I can tell you “ain’t nobody got no allergy to nothin’ ’round here!” Because these kids can’t get much better than peanut butter. It’s Government Issue…the staple of the eagerly, weekly anticipated donation baskets that the masses in “Da Hood” are living on. I have never seen anything more prolific than the peanut butter plastic containers being transported by the Basket People down to the recycling place, and I guess the point is…Come on! Really? Peanut butter is banned in our schools, but handed out in droves through the Social System meant to help people get on their feet, or at least stay alive?
    A hood kid eats peanut butter every day! A day with a bag of Peanuts is like freakin’ Christmas! And if a Hood Kid gets any “Allergic Reaction” to anything – he gets a beatin’ for acting like that. I guess it all comes down to Only the Strong Survive. So, how and why do pansies seem to Thrive, while these peanut butter basket people simply survive?

  2. piblogger says:

    I appreciate both your directness and real-world perspective Suzannesh . . .

  3. How Real Is the Peanut Allergy Threat?
    Posted by piblogger on February 23, 2012 · Leave a Comment

    When I was a kid there were never any restrictions on what we could or could not bring to school in our lunch. Nor had I ever encountered or even for that matter heard about an allergic reaction to say peanut butter. So here is the question . . . Are peanut allergies real?

    According to studies of the 30,000 people who are hospitalized each year for purported food reactions only 2,000 are actual allergic reactions, with 150 people dying from a severe anaphylaxis shock.

    As a point of reference, this is the same number of people killed by bee stings and lightning strikes combined.

    In fact, a greater risk to our children is head trauma injuries due to their participation in organized sports for which 10,000 people are hospitalized every year. I wonder if organized sports will be banned in the not too distant futureÉ

    In short, and according to experts, the real culprit behind the peanut risk is what is referred to as being “mass psychogenic illness,” otherwise known as hysterical reactions grossly out of proportion to the level of real danger. A danger, experts contend that has been fanned by media sensationalism.

    So . . . is the peanut as much of a threat as we think and, are we ultimately paying premium prices for goods which bear the no peanut insignia for a risk that is less of a threat than being struck by lightning?

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    No Responses to “How Real Is the Peanut Allergy Threat?”
    suzanneshS says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm
    One of my favorite childhood memories is when I spent time researching the life and success of George Washington Carver. I live in “Da Hood” and I can tell you “ain’t nobody got no allergy to nothin’ ’round here!” Because these kids can’t get much better than peanut butter. It’s Government Issue…the staple of the eagerly, weekly anticipated donation baskets that the masses in “Da Hood” are living on. I have never seen anything more prolific than the peanut butter plastic containers being transported by the Basket People down to the recycling place, and I guess the point is…Come on! Really? Peanut butter is banned in our schools, but handed out in droves through the Social System meant to help people get on their feet, or at least stay alive?
    A hood kid eats peanut butter every day! A day with a bag of Peanuts is like freakin’ Christmas! And if a Hood Kid gets any “Allergic Reaction” to anything – he gets a beatin’ for acting like that. I guess it all comes down to Only the Strong Survive. So, how and why do pansies seem to Thrive, while these peanut butter basket people simply survive?

  4. Of course peanut allergies are real. If a kid has had an allergic reaction and has been instructed by his/her family doctor to avoid any food with peanuts, they should watch what they eat. Hopefully, nobody will try to convince them otherwise and “try a bit, it’s so good!.” Could they have mass psychogenic illness and avoid peanuts? Sure, and there is no need in forcing the peanuts on them but in treating their underlying psychogenic problem, usually triggered by stress. Remember, we make the psychogenic diagnosis once we have ruled out other medical conditions, in this case, there are no allergies. I always prefer to err on being conservative when dealing with medical issues.

    Twenty something years ago, a woman came to the emergency room complaining of unbearable acute headache and vomiting. She apparently felt this headache attack while she and her husband reunited in intimacy after he returned from months of being at sea as a Navy officer. The ER doctor thought she was just histrionic given her family’s report of her being capricious, always looking to being the center of attention, and “hysteric.” She had a bleeding aneurism and died a few days later of post-surgical complications.

    We always rule out the presence of other medical conditions prior to giving a diagnosis of mass psychogenic illness, somatization or conversion disorders.

    Fascinating topic, thanks, Jon.

  5. Jodi says:

    I can assure you that my son’s peanut allergy is real. I watched as his eyes swelled, then his face, his body covered in nasty hives, after eating a Ritz cracker smeared with peanut butter for the first time. He was unrecognizable and struggling to breathe by the time we got to the emergency room.

    There were no government officials standing in my kitchen that day nor the media.

    I’m sorry you feel put out by my son’s allergy. Do diabetics make you feel this way too?

    • piblogger says:

      Thank you for your comment Jodi. I once again want to reiterate that any allergic reaction is very serious and not to be taken lightly. Nor am I put out in any way. What I am asking is simply this . . . with studies showing that of the 30,000 hospitalizations per year due to purported allergic reactions only 2,000 are legitimate and that approximately 150 people die as a result (again for the 150 this is a very sad and traumatic situation), is the widespread parnoia justified. Especially when 10,000 kids suffer head injuries in sports.

      • Prima says:

        Our children are not healthy. They have illnesses they shouldn’t have. Children on acid reflux meds and statins? Seriously?? There are many possible reasons why, starting with the deteriorating health of the previous generation, the countless vaccines they get starting on the day of birth (!), the hormones and other additives in their soy or cows milk formula (ugh), more hormones, pesticides, fungicides, gmo’s as they start to eat “real” food (which is a whole other dicussion), antibiotics and steroids for all the ear, sinus, etc. infections they get… Today, their little bodies are under assault from the moment they’re born, one of the first systems to show distress is the digestive system. This peanut allergy (and others) is not a psycho thing, it’s the body saying I can’t digest this anymore! Why peanuts? High in mold, no doubt high in pesticides and fungicides.

      • piblogger says:

        So in other words Prima, we have created the allergies ourselves through things such as GMO etc. and therefore prior to being modified said allergies existed but on a limited basis?

  6. Jodi says:

    I don’t believe there is widespread paranoia regarding peanut allergies. Widespread annoyance is what we run into more often. People read articles about how peanut allergies aren’t a real threat and believe that their neighbor is just exaggerating that their kid could die from just one bite.

    My children play sports. It is a choice we make. Eating is a requirement for life.

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