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Men may have higher risk of allergies than women, study finds

BY Michael Johnsen

MADISON, N.J. — A recent Quest Diagnostics "Health Trends Report" released Wednesday raised the possibility that men have a higher risk for allergies than women or that men, as a function of their gender, require different reporting standards when evaluated for allergies with increasingly used blood tests.

Prior research had suggested just the opposite — that women experienced allergies more frequently than men.

"This landmark report … underscores that allergies are a major public health concern and that gender, age and region influence their impact on the health of Americans," Quest Diagnostics chairman and CEO Surya Mohapatra said.

A study of nearly 14 million blood tests for aiding allergy diagnosis shows that men exhibited higher sensitivity to 11 common allergens than women when tested. The combined allergen sensitization rate for the 11 allergens evaluated in the study was approximately 10% higher for men than for women at all ages. The findings contradict other research, including a meta-analysis of 591 studies that found that women make up 65% of adults identified with allergies.

"Our study suggests that allergies in men may not be less prevalent than in women, as suggested by other research, and men may be at risk for underdiagnoses of allergies," said study investigator Stanley Naides, medical director of immunology at Quest Diagnostics. "Additional research will determine whether men truly are at greater allergy risk or simply experience higher sensitization rates as a result of their gender, a finding which could affect physicians’ interpretation of increasingly used IgE blood tests."

The Quest study evaluated results of ImmunoCAP specific immunoglobulin E, or IgE, blood testing to 11 common allergens, including common ragweed and mold, two dust mites, cats and dogs and five foods. IgE is an antibody in blood produced by the body’s immune system when an allergen is present. A high IgE sensitization level for a specific allergen tested is highly suggestive of an allergy, although physicians also evaluate symptoms, medical history and other factors in order to clinically diagnose an allergy, Quest stated.

Earlier this month, Quest Diagnostics released preliminary results from the report, including growth rates of two environment-based allergens linked to climate change and associations between allergies and asthma in children. Allergies are one of the most common health conditions, affecting 1-in-5 Americans. To access the full report, visit QuestDiagnostics.com/HealthTrends.

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Walgreens makes changes to beauty, personal care merchant teams

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Wednesday promoted Mike Spear to divisional merchandise manager of the retailer’s personal care division and announced that Lauren Vondrasek is transitioning to the company’s beauty merchandising unit, which is headed by Barbara Larson.

Spear has more than 20 years of retail experience, most recently as director of category planning at Walgreens.

Vondrasek will manage cosmetic bags, fragrances, sunglasses and trial/travel items, according to an internal memo distributed by Walgreens. Vondrasek is a 16-year Walgreens veteran, having started her career as a store manager in 1994.

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Pampers dresses up baby’s bottoms

BY Allison Cerra

CINCINNATI — Pampers has introduced Prints, a limited-edition diaper line.

Pampers limited-edition Prints are available in designs for both boys and girls, including floral and polka dot prints for girls, and argyle and toy car prints for boys. The diapers can be purchased at retailers nationwide through the summer and are available in sizes 1 through 4.

“Pampers prides itself on being at the forefront of not only comfort and performance, but also style,” P&G Baby Care North America general manager Fama Francisco said. “A diaper is the foundation for your baby’s wardrobe, so naturally we want it to be special. While performance always comes first, we know that design is also important. Pampers limited-edition Prints combine form and function with stylish design suitable for this summer season.”

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