It was harder to see how natural selection could have produced allergies. Reacting to harmless things with a huge immune response probably wouldn’t have aided the survival of our ancestors. Allergies are also strangely selective. Only some people have allergies, and only some substances are allergens. Sometimes people develop allergies relatively late in life; sometimes childhood allergies disappear. And for decades, nobody could even figure out what IgE was for. It showed no ability to stop any virus or bacteria. It was as if we evolved one special kind of antibody just to make us miserable.
From Why Do We Have Allergies?
This whole article was fascinating. I hope you’ll go read it, especially if you have any allergies yourself. My thoughts on the topic in general are below.
When I was very young I wondered what it would be like to have allergies. My parents both had a lot of them and I was fascinated by how all of that worked. Well, maybe fascinated isn’t the right word. I definitely didn’t like to see them suffering the effects of a bad reaction, but I was really interested in why one person could be exposed to something without reacting to it while another one developed hives or had an asthma attack.
Eventually I developed some allergies of my own and they were annoying, not fascinating.
If I had to pick one allergy of mine to get rid of, it would be the milk one. It’s mild, but I’d be a much more adventurous eater without it. It would be easy for me to transition to a vegetarian diet if I could eat cheese. A vegan diet would be harder, although I have toyed with the idea in the past.
Seasonal allergies aren’t hard for me to handle. They’ve been so tame this spring that I’ve barely even noticed they existed.
My allergies to animals like dogs and cats are sad, but I don’t think I’d have a pet at the moment even if I was able to do so. My home isn’t set up for a four-legged companion, and I’d need to do a lot more research about finding the right one for my lifestyle and taking care of it properly before I made that kind of commitment. There’s so much I don’t know about this topic that I wouldn’t even be sure of what questions to ask if I had to decide right now.
Wouldn’t it be cool if the theory in this article turned out to be true? It would make all of the discomfort of allergic reactions worth it.
One Response to There (Might Be) A Good Reason Why Allergies Exist
While interesting, and well written, that author seems to have fallen prey to the common idea that evolution is working toward something. That mutations must serve a purpose, a purpose beneficial in some way.
Genetic mutation is random, it has no purpose. And those mutations that take hold in the gene pool remain only because there isn’t sufficient pressure to eliminate them. Including allergic reactions.