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If You Have Allergies, Someone in Your Family Tree May Have Banged a Neanderthal

Courtesy of [Fickr user Kate Harding](https://www.flickr.com/photos/bundysworld/6846838357/in/photolist-br2Qvc-dv6Wj-brXTSb-bTC7yx-bTC2nM-bY3Tys-bY3Sef-bY3Ncm-bY3LTC-bY3LbW-bESNUe-z2XBL-bESNMM-brXUzG-brXUpN-brXUdQ-bESLPV-bESLii-bY41Ef-83YxxU-ph84YL-ph6Lcr-ph8pqk-pyBCHi-ph8pj8-ph84Eu-BFCjz-bY42bq-bTC9Q2-bTC8PX-bTC8Jk-bEHp8L-bEHp5C-bEHp2j-bTC8we-bTC8tt-bEHoNS-bEHoH7-bEHoDW-bTC8c6-bEHoAm-bTC88n-bTC86F-bEHopU-bEHonN-bTC7UF-bTC7Sr-bEHoeL-bEHoaq-bTC7Er))

Courtesy of Fickr user Kate Harding)

Do you suffer from hay fever? Are you allergic to peanuts? Does a freshly-cut lawn cause you to run for the tissue box? If any of these scenarios sound familiar, your neanderthal-screwing ancestors might be partially to blame.

A new study from the American Journal of Human Genetics suggests that modern humans interbreeding with Neanderthals and Denisovans 40,000 years ago may have left their descendants more susceptible to certain allergies.

“A small group of modern humans leaving Africa would not carry much genetic variation,” researcher Janet Kelso of the Max Planck Institute told the Guardian. “You can adapt through mutations, but if you interbreed with the local population who are already there, you can get some of these adaptations for free.”

According to the Guardian, three specific neanderthal genes that are still common in modern humans are believed to leave their carriers more at risk for allergies such as asthma and hay fever. However, these genes may also offer beneficial traits, such as a boosted immune system.

“The most obvious consequences have been in shaping our adaptation to our environment - improving how we resist pathogens and metabolize novel foods,” Kelso said.

However, not all humans are likely to be affected. In particular, people of African ancestry tend not to carry the genes in question since their distant forefathers did not have much, if any, contact with Neanderthals and Denisovans.

(Source: The Guardian, H/T: The Independent)

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