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The study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

Sleep deprivation and exercise puts people with peanut allergies at a greater risk of having a reaction, a new FSA-funded study has revealed.

The research, led by the allergy research team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, was published today (17 September) in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

It found exercise, sleep deprivation or stress ‘significantly reduce[d] the amount of peanut required to cause an allergic reaction’.

The work was described as “hugely significant” for the one in 100 adults and one in 50 children suffering from peanut allergies - the most common cause of fatal reactions.

By providing cut-off levels appropriate for the UK population, it might eventually “help regulators and the food industry develop accurate evidence-based food labelling - keeping consumers safe and enabling greater variety of diet”, said the researchers.

FSA chair Heather Hancock added: “This is vital work and can help us redefine how foods are labelled in future, so that people can manage their allergies more safely.

“It’s impossible to remove the allergy risk for people, but these findings give us essential evidence. In future, it could support precautionary allergen labelling so people will know exactly when a food poses a real risk to them, which can increase the trust they have in their food.”

More than 126 peanut-allergic people took part in the trial.

“While the development of new labelling will likely take some time, the immediate benefit is that we can raise awareness among sufferers the consequence of stress, sleep deprivation and exercise can have on tolerance of peanut,” said chief investigator Dr Andrew Clark, of the Cambridge University Hospitals allergy support team.