Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Brain Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Antihistamine Use Tied to Brain Tumors

Glioblastoma Risk Not Affected continued...

The study also confirmed that people with allergies or asthma are less likely to develop brain tumors. They were 36% less likely to have glioblastoma, 53% less likely to have anaplastic astrocytomas, and 37% less likely to have low-grade gliomas than people without the conditions.

Results also lined up with previous reports that both anti-inflammatory drugs and chickenpox confer protection against glioblastoma, Scheurer says.

"Once you have the chickenpox, the virus that causes it stays with you forever, lying dormant in the brain," he says. "It's hypothesized that the latent virus causes low levels of inflammation. And inflammation has been linked to the development of a variety of cancers."

Don't Panic!

To arrive at their findings, the researchers combined data from two studies in which participants were asked about their use of antihistamines and anti-inflammatory drugs. A total of 610 people with brain tumors and 831 people without cancer were included in the final analysis.

John D. Potter, PhD, senior vice president of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and moderator of a news conference to discuss the findings, stresses that people who take antihistamines should not panic or stop taking the drugs when needed.

"This study adds to information we have showing that inflammatory processes are important in the development of cancer. It does not tell us that drugs like antihistamines cause cancer," he tells WebMD.

"It's a mechanism we should be exploring, not a risk factor we should be modifying," Potter says.

Scheurer agrees. One hypothesis he hopes to explore is to determine whether antihistamines work in concert with as-yet undetermined genetic factors to raise brain cancer risk.

"It could be that some people are predisposed to develop the tumors and antihistamine use is just speeding it up," he says. "That's a topic for future research."

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

doctor and patient
How to know when it’s time for home care
doctory with x-ray
Here are 10 to know.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
Malignant Gliomas
Pets Improve Your Health
Headache Emergencies
life after a brain tumor

Would you consider trying alternative or complementary therapies?