Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Scientists Say a Dirty Child Is a Healthy Child

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the snack-is-going-to-be-on-the-floor-today dept.

Idle 331

Researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of California have shown that the more germs a child is exposed to, the better their immune system in later life. Their study found that keeping a child's skin too clean impaired the skin's ability to heal itself. From the article: "'These germs are actually good for us,' said Professor Richard Gallo, who led the research. Common bacterial species, known as staphylococci, which can cause inflammation when under the skin, are 'good bacteria' when on the surface, where they can reduce inflammation."

cancel ×

331 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

nt (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220278)

It could be that the process of cleansing is itself stressful to the skin when carried to excess.

Or it could be that the skin germs do a good job of "crowding out" the bad germs by hogging all the skin.

Re:nt (4, Informative)

jc42 (318812) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220902)

It could be that the process of cleansing is itself stressful to the skin when carried to excess.

This has been understood for at least several decades.

When I was in college, back in the late 60s and early 70s, a doctor diagnosed my dry, cracked skin and ongoing rashes as the result of too many showers. He recommended only one or two showers a week, with the qualification that any heavy exercise that produced sweating could probably be followed by a shower. I tried following his advice, and the problems cleared up. His explanation is that soap doesn't just clear away dirt and micro-organisms; it also removes surface skin cells and destroys oils, and this isn't too good for the skin.

This whole story is basically just reaffirming what has been understood in the medical community for a long time. As with most other biological topics, extremes in cleanliness aren't especially good for your health. You're better off being mostly clean, but with a small surface sprinkling of the sort of stuff that we evolved with. Soapy water does the same thing to your skin cells as it does to the bacteria. Your skin cells to have mechanisms (proteins) that bind them together, so they don't wash away all that easily. But your skin does succumb eventually to the same chemical attacks that remove the bacteria, if you hit it with too strong an attack.

Yes, indeed (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220982)

It could be that the process of cleansing is itself stressful to the skin when carried to excess.

Yes, indeed. Specially dry skin in winter can be associated with way too much cleaning.
1 shower a day is good (*).
washing hands every 10 minute interval during the whole day is not.

(*) unless combination of factors like hard water, and sensitive skin, in which case even a single daily shower would require using body milk or something similar.

Or it could be that the skin germs do a good job of "crowding out" the bad germs by hogging all the skin.

Yes, indeed.
It's one of the reason people can catch secondary infection (from fungi like Candida) when exposed to too broad antibiotics.

And we could add a third cause :
- Exposition to bacteria => Immune system makes antibodies => Therefore body has a stockpile of antibody (called "memory cells") to choose from in case of actual bacterial infection.

Another reason : Allergy (4, Interesting)

DrYak (748999) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221112)

Also another related advantage :

It might get the kid exposed to parasite.
Not only does the kid get preventive antibodies ready to be used in case of real parasites invasion (just like with bacteria as in the above explanation), it might as well diminish risks of allergy.

As far as the hypothesis goes :

- People exposed to parasite :
100% of them make adapted anti-bodies (IgE) and prepares mast-cells, ready to use in case of real parasite invasion.

- People never exposed to parasite :

In most of people :
nothing happens, the part of the immune system responsible for parasite response (IgE antibodies and mast cells) just sits idle.
No allergy happens.

In unlucky people with genetic predispositions :
out of "bordom" is it doesn't have anything else to do, the system start to attack random mostly innocent stuff, which are just mildly irritating but have nothing to do with actual parasites.
The body creates IgE targeted toward food or to animals' saliva, and has mast-call equipped against that.

Unlike a real parasite (which is an animal, and thus can only exist in a single point of the body - well, ok : unless it's two specimen, in which case they are in 2 points, but you got the main idea), the target substance is soluble or is a liquide and can diffuse across the whole body.
Thus the Mast-cell don't react only locally at the single point(s) where the paraiste(s) is/are, but react everywhere in the body, creating systemic symptoms => allergic reactions.

This might get really dangerous, because the whole parasite reaction cascade (like dilating blood vessel and lowering blood-pression) was never designed to happen everywhere at the same time => anaphylaxis.

How is this news? (5, Interesting)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220280)

For years it's been known that kids from third world countries usually don't suffer from auto-immune diseases and things akin because of the sickly environment they are exposed too. It's simple, if you live constantly with the risk of infection your body will build up a stronger immune system than someone who lives in a bubble.

Re:How is this news? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30220372)

Or the ones susceptible to auto-immune diseases die at such a young age that they are never counted or seen in the data.

Re:How is this news? (2, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220556)

I would expect that this would place a strong selective pressure on immune function. As such, I would think that you would expect the trend to continue in the children of families from such areas and transplanted them into a cleaner culture.

I also would expect that this is the sort of question a good study would ask, and attempt to select participants such that they would be able to remove such an effect from their data. (which is not to say they did, just that a proper study would try to do that)

-Steve

Re:How is this news? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30220572)

For years it's been known that kids from third world countries usually don't suffer from auto-immune diseases and things akin because of the sickly environment they are exposed too. It's simple, if you live constantly with the risk of infection your body will build up a stronger immune system than someone who lives in a bubble.

So... You are in the pro-turn-our-first-world-country-into-a-third-world-country camp no because that evens out the job competition here in the US, but because you actually think it makes healthier children? Have you ever looked at the infant/child mortality rates of these third world countries?

I can't eat out anymore because we have so many God damned illegals from Mexico that grew up without the benefits of running water, toilet paper, and soap. The thought of dirty brown people with poopy fingers scares me enough.

Re:How is this news? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30220730)

The thought of dirty brown people with poopy fingers scares me enough.

If that keeps you out of society, good.

Re:How is this news? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30220790)

chinga a tu madre pinche troll racista de mierda

Re:How is this news? (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220822)

Get a Hep A shot.

Even your best white urban chef won't be washing his or her hands aseptically, and the rule for chefs is "if it's not bad enough to be in the hospital, it's not bed enough to miss work."

Re:How is this news? (1)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220624)

I also read about this years ago.

I practically never get sick and I have no known allergies. As a child, I dug in mud, I explored forests, I ate earth and worms and all kinds of crap. Perhaps that's the reason.

Re:How is this news? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220860)

I dug my share of holes in the yard too, but I still have allergies. I don't tend to get colds or flu very often, though. Maybe once in ten years.

-jcr

Re:How is this news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30220952)

See George Carlin's explanation why no one in his neighborhood got polio....

Re:How is this news? (4, Insightful)

snaz555 (903274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220980)

I practically never get sick and I have no known allergies. As a child, I dug in mud, I explored forests, I ate earth and worms and all kinds of crap. Perhaps that's the reason.

So did I - spent time in the local woods, swam in the lakes, jumped in every muddy puddle to be seen, played out in the rain, and whatnot. I'm still allergic to cats, some detergents, and natural rubber (latex, avocado). This was in the mid 70s, and people had allergies then just like today. It's just the bar was much higher and people didn't really consider it an allergy unless they were likely to go into shock or develop serious symptoms. A little spring sniffle caused by pollen wasn't really hay fever unless it caused breathing difficulties or made your eyes puff up so bad you couldn't see. Anything else just wasn't bothered with and parents would tell their kids, "yeah it's just a little spring pollen, now go to school."

Re:How is this news? (1)

fredklein (532096) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220832)

Wasn't this on last weeks House episode?

Re:How is this news? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220960)

It was. The guy's immune system was dependant on parasitic worms in his stomach to keep his weak immune system on alert, or something like that. Yeah, not only not news but also explained in a popular drama series on TV.

Bare foot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30220292)

...is the natural way of walking.

Re:Bare foot... (2, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220748)

if god meant us to walk bare foot, he wouldn't have given us feet to put shoes on.

Re:Bare foot... (1)

darthdavid (835069) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220968)

And living naked, in a cave, with no fire while living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle is the natural way too. You can go first and let me know how it works out...

Re:Bare foot... (1)

sowth (748135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221040)

...is an easy way to get parasites. [berkeley.edu]

first (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30220298)

nigger

Wow, that's good news (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30220306)

My kid must be immortal!

Re:Wow, that's good news (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220394)

It that one of them in the picture?

Re:Wow, that's good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30220772)

There's a kid in there? Looks like a mound of mud to me.

old news? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30220320)

My mother told me this 20 years ago, this is like household wisdom.

Re:old news? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30220828)

Yeah, here too...

Re:old news? (2, Insightful)

HBoar (1642149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220830)

It also seems like common sense too. Makes sense to me that out bodies would have evolved to cope with whatever 'dirt' we were normally exposed to. Homo Sapiens did not come about in a time where everything was wiped with detol before use. It disgusts me how many TV ads there are now telling mothers they need to disinfect absolutely everything in their homes. Kids are filthy, that's how they're supposed to be!

Seems to work for adults too -- I live in a dirty student flat that gets cleaned about once a year, and we are all sick much less often than our 'civilised' friends. There you go, an anecdote, it must be true!

Re:old news? (1)

Pyrion (525584) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221200)

No shit. Largely same living conditions here, and getting sick usually amounts to seasonal flu once a year for me. Only reason that ends up happening is exposure to other sick people, usually the sort who swear by using disinfectants all the time as if it's supposed to help increase their chances of avoiding getting sick. I don't know how well that's working for them, but I do know that if I avoid them, my chances of avoiding getting sick go up.

Re:old news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30221502)

QSL

Uh, I mean, yeah absolutely. My dear father grew up PWT in Texas and swore that the reason he never got polio, flu, etc. was because he played in the swampier land of Texarkana.

As a result, when he grew up big and strong and procreated, allowed his daughter to run in the muck and mud and never ever ever ever get a flu shot.

I'm still alive. Not PWT anymore, and my kids haven't known hunger yet, but you better believe they're in the muck too.

Re:old news? (4, Interesting)

chrisG23 (812077) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221552)

It seems to have been forgotten. I don't know if its because my parents immigrated from another country, but they have a different view on health than the average American. Growing up, medicine from the pharmacy was the last resort to treat anything, with some important exceptions.

If I had a headache, lay down, don't read or play a video game, go to sleep if you can, wait it out.

A stomach ache - Some toast and tea, and then see if you can go poopie.

Sore throat - My mom makes this stuff out of egg yolks, lemon and sugar. Maybe its a placebo. Also, every blue moone she would aslo give me a half shot or quarter shot of this high proof plum brandy/whiskey, "to kill the gems"

A cold - Hot tea, garlic toast, bedrest.

Chest congestion - Vicks vapor-rub type hing applied to my chest left on overnight.

When things were real bad, like being sick and not getting better, or having high fevers, then I would go to the doctor, get examined, and be given penicillin. Thats about the only thing I got regularly as a child.

Flash forward to adulthood. I am 30 now. I haven't been sick since I was 23 or 24, and before that it was some time in high school. I don't get seasonal flus. I don't get colds. I get a headache two or three times a year. I get a runny nose a few times a year (usually at the same time people are getting really sick with whatever is going around at the moment). I get sore throats and congestion, but I'm never sure if that is the cigarette smoking or something else.

All in all, for someone that does not live a particularly healthy lifestyle, I'm doing pretty damn good. Knock on wood.

One more thing, home cooked food was the norm, eating out was the exception. Soup almost every day. Lots of vegetables, lots of weird tasting/smelling vegetables. I'm also not allergic to anything that I know of.

Score another for the hygeine hypothesis (4, Informative)

overshoot (39700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220324)

Same basic theme as the "hygeine hypothesis" that exposure to soil bacteria plays an important role in causing the immune system to deemphasize inflammatory responses and rely more on cell-mediated immunity. In particular, it's been invoked to account for ectopic disease and asthma.

We're adapted to a hunter-gatherer society (2, Insightful)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220878)

Human beings are well adapted to most common bacteria, adjusting immune responses to a ancient equalibrium created by evolution. The problem is that we haven't had time to adapt to antibacterial soap, everything we eat carefully sanitized, and constant cleanliness.

I'm increasingly convinced that a healthy diet reflects eating habits established tens of thousands of years ago.

Re:We're adapted to a hunter-gatherer society (1)

Pyrion (525584) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221240)

In other words, none of this "three square meals a day" bullshit. You eat however much satisfies you at the moment, no more, whenever you get hungry (or thirsty). Undoubtedly the way we survived as a hunter-gatherer species tens of thousands of years ago.

My diet could equate to a single large meal a day and that's it.

Re:We're adapted to a hunter-gatherer society (4, Insightful)

honkycat (249849) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221366)

Except the limits that kept that diet workable aren't in place any more. First of all, if you're an average citizen of an industrialized nation, you can easily obtain far more food than you require without exerting significant physical effort. That's different from only eating what you can catch and/or collect. Second, you probably expect to live a lot longer than your distant ancestors. You are therefore susceptible to a lot of consequences of malnutrition or obesity that an ancient hunter/gatherer would never survive long enough to face.

For some people, the limit of "satisfaction" is probably ok. For others, it doesn't work.

Re:We're adapted to a hunter-gatherer society (5, Interesting)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221454)

Related to your point:
    "The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force That Undermines Health & Happiness"
    http://www.amazon.com/Pleasure-Trap-Mastering-Undermines-Happiness/dp/1570671508 [amazon.com]
    "Learn how to escape the dietary pleasure trap!"
    http://www.healthpromoting.com/Articles/articles/PleasureTrap.htm [healthpromoting.com]
"""
From the perspective of our natural history, a daily life with such dietary choices is extraordinary. For hundreds of thousands of years, our ancient ancestors scratched and scraped, struggling against the harsh forces of nature in order to get enough food to survive. Even today, in undeveloped countries, significant food shortages are still a great concern, with millions dying each year from starvation. Yet, in a mere blink of history's eye--in just a few decades--industrialized societies have arisen from environments of scarcity and have transformed themselves into societies of unprecedented abundance. The most striking feature of that abundance is a virtually unlimited supply of food.
    An abundance of food, by itself, is not a cause of health problems. But modern technology has done more than to simply make food perpetually abundant. Food also has been made artificially tastier. Food is often more stimulating than ever before--as the particular chemicals in foods that cause pleasure reactions have been isolated--and artificially concentrated. These chemicals include fats (including oils), refined carbohydrates (such as refined sugar and flour), and salt. Meats were once consumed mostly in the form of wild game--typically about 15% fat. Today's meat is a much different product. Chemically and hormonally engineered, it can be as high as 50% fat or more. Ice cream is an extraordinary invention for intensifying taste pleasure--an artificial concoction of pure fat and refined sugar. Once an expensive delicacy, it is now a daily ritual for many people. French fries and potato chips, laden with artificially-concentrated fats, are currently the most commonly consumed "vegetable" in our society. These artificial products, and others like them, form the core of the American diet. Our teenage population, for example, consumes 25% of their calories in the form of soda pop!
    Most of our citizenry can't imagine how it could be any other way. To remove (or dramatically reduce) such products from America's daily diet seems intolerable--even absurd. Most people believe that if they were to do so, they would enjoy their food--and their lives--much less. Indeed, most people believe that they literally would suffer if they consumed a health-promoting diet devoid of such indulgences. But, it is here that their perception is greatly in error. The reality is that humans are well designed to fully enjoy the subtler tastes of whole natural foods, but are poorly equipped to realize this fact. And like a frog sitting in dangerously hot water, most people are being slowly destroyed by the limitations of their awareness.
"""

Personally, I feel many hunter/gatherers twenty thousand years ago may have lived longer and better than some people say they did (even as things got worse with rising population, competition, and agriculture). It really depends on where exactly they lived in what time period and what the local climate was like. There are places and times where six foot and taller skeletons were common, like on the shores of inland places that had big lakes.

From:
    http://www.primitivism.com/original-affluent.htm [primitivism.com]
"Hunter-gatherers consume less energy per capita per year than any other group of human beings. Yet when you come to examine it the original affluent society was none other than the hunter's - in which all the people's material wants were easily satisfied. To accept that hunters are affluent is therefore to recognise that the present human condition of man slaving to bridge the gap between his unlimited wants and his insufficient means is a tragedy of modern times."

and:
        http://press.princeton.edu/titles/6812.html [princeton.edu]
        "For instance, the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture approximately 10,000 years ago has commonly been seen as a major advancement in the course of human evolution. However, as Larsen provocatively shows, this change may not have been so positive. Compared to their hunter-gatherer ancestors, many early farmers suffered more disease, had to work harder, and endured a poorer quality of life due to poorer diets and more marginal living conditions. Moreover, the past 10,000 years have seen dramatic changes in the human physiognomy as a result of alterations in our diet and lifestyle. Some modern health problems, including obesity and chronic disease, may also have their roots in these earlier changes."

Re:We're adapted to a hunter-gatherer society (2, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221588)

many hunter/gatherers twenty thousand years ago may have lived longer and better than some people say they did

From a dietary and exercise standpoint, I would believe that. Throw in a thagomizer (or hominid contemporary equivalent), and not so much.

Re:We're adapted to a hunter-gatherer society (1)

kabome (1685646) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221378)

Not necessarily true, adaptations to consumption of milk has happened within a relatively short timespan: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=neolithic-europeans-lactose-tolerance [scientificamerican.com] People live much longer than they did tens of thousands of years ago for several reasons, one among them being diets were no where near as varied and able to supply all the necessary nutrients we require as we have today ("Mammoth steaks AGAIN?"), even though there is plenty of unhealthy modern food, there is plenty which has been created within the even the last 100 years which has improved the quality of healthy eating. There have been plenty of developments in the history of humankind which have provided advantages, you really can't say that suddenly stopped 10's of thousands of years ago.

Re:Score another for the hygeine hypothesis (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221280)

What scares me is the rise in the use of sanitizing lotions and sprays. I believe the limited use of these to clean households and the like is what has caused the rise in allergies and relative decline in natural defenses Imagine what an entire generation raised with the constant killing of germs, beneficial and otherwise, is going to look like. They are going to have to live in freaking bubbles. We already can't have peanuts around because some maladapated child might die. What is next? Real vegetables because they cannot be sanitized of all naturally occurring bacteria? Itisnot that It want the kids to die, or even get really sick. It is that I think we can see what this fear based living is doing to us, and it would be nice to put some rational perspective in the argument. I mean, look at it this way. We know that car exhaust does kill us,and therefore any one with a family should drive low emission vehicles. But families often drive emission spouting SUVs believing they are 'safer',even though the kids breathe the fumes and get injured. Risk assesment is not the high skill of the average human.

Corollary (5, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220334)

And the corollary is... a dirty old man is a healthy old man.

This is why I plan on mounting mirrors and/or cameras on both my cane and my shoetips.

This is why, as an old man, I will take a volunteer job on a college campus somewhere in Florida.

This is why, as an old man, I plan to be a huge supporter of high school sports, standing on the sidelines with my hands in my pockets.

I don't want to die, and if being a dirty old man is what it takes, then so be it.

Re:Corollary (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220404)

>>>And the corollary is... a dirty old man is a healthy old man.

Yessir!!! The Dirty Old Man's Association is by far my favorite website. If only they'd add video. Oh well. (warning nudity) http://www.domai.com/ [domai.com]

Anecdote time (4, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220346)

A friend of mine teaches at a primary school. She has noticed the kids from the "bad side" of town may have other problems but bizarre allergies aren't one of them. In contrast, the kids with nut allergies, pollen allergies, etc. are the ones from upper class neighborhoods with an obsessive focus on cleanliness - they get sent to school with little bottles of purell in their knapsacks.

Re:Anecdote time (1)

Hybrid-brain (1478551) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220440)

That's interesting. very. actually. I wonder if a test with controls and whatnot would work to test if this actually is true.

Re:Anecdote time (1)

Pyrion (525584) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221288)

The only allergies I've got are due to genetics - I'm lactose-intolerant and gluten-intolerant (milk and wheat) due to my asian ancestry. I live in an environment that is saturated with dust and animal dander (of both the dog and cat variety) as well as molds and I don't have a problem with any of that. Pollen doesn't screw me up either. Seasonal flu once a year is about it.

Re:Anecdote time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30221458)

Actually that's why lactose and gluten intolerances are called that, instead of lactose or gluten allergies. Allergies by definition are caused by an unnecessary immune response. You can have milk allergies but that's usually a reaction to the protein. It's also more difficult to treat than lactose intolerance (which can basically be solved by taking a pill).

Also, most of the world is lactose intolerant [wikipedia.org] except for north west Europeans and Indians. I'm lactose intolerant with east European/Jewish ancestry. Thank goodness for Lactaid! ;-)

But I believe that's actually why many cultures eat fermented forms of milk - e.g. yoghurt and cheese are popular in Mediterranean countries.

Damn right! (2, Funny)

chaynlynk (1523701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220352)

Because of this, I will continue to not wash my hands, ever.

Re:Damn right! (2, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220544)

"You really don't plan to shake my hand without washing yours first, do you?"
"I take offense to that; I assure you I keep a very clean penis."

Knew This For Years (2, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220364)

Of course nobody listened to me, and I doubt anyone will listen to this study either. They'll just keep cleaning their kid.

Likewise exposing your kid to lots of allergens (like pollen, grass, et cetera) can prevent allergies as the body learns to ignore these things. Even in adulthood the body can be "trained" to allergens through frequent exposure.

Re:Knew This For Years (1)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220638)

My wife was born in Viet Nam and spent the first 30 years of her life there, and she's been saying that for years, too. She has an absolutely bulletproof immune system; she almost never gets sick, even when everyone around her has a cold, and on those rare occasions when she does, she shakes it off faster than anyone else. Her siblings are all the same way. She attributes this to the fact that there wasn't much vaccine (or knowledge of hygienic practice) in VN when she was a kid. Not much in the way of antibiotics, either, so you just had to get well on your own if you got sick.

Re:Knew This For Years (1)

rainmaestro (996549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220734)

I've always had the same reaction. As a kid, I had lots of issues. Rheumatic fever, asthma for many years, chicken pox, plenty of sick days.

As an adult, nothing. In the 8 years since I left home, I've had *one* sick day. I had three roommates at the time all flattened out for a week by a stomach flu. Three sick people, two bathrooms to throw up in. Toward the end, I had one queasy night, threw up once, and was out golfing the next morning.

I've always attributed it to the fact that I was exposed to so much stuff as a kid. Even the stuff that caused me asthma as a kid (talking "rush me to the hospital" asthma), nowadays it just makes my eyes dry (cat dander).

I've never been obsessed about germs. I hardly ever wash my hands, I don't shy away from people who sneeze and cough, etc. The body needs, to quote George Carlin, "germs to practice on".

Re:Knew This For Years (1)

Pyrion (525584) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221342)

I have a friend who is the same way. Pretty much never gets sick. I've had the flu in his presence multiple times and he's never caught it. He chalks it up to his dirty lifestyle - he's an industrial construction worker who works on car and boat engines as his main hobby, so he's always outdoors, always getting dirty, always getting exposed to other people, and he never gets sick.

Though he still ends up visiting the hospital on occasion because he gets into accidents from stupid stunts more than most people should in their lives.

Other hypothesis. (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221172)

Likewise exposing your kid to lots of allergens (like pollen, grass, et cetera) can prevent allergies as the body learns to ignore these things.

Other hypothesis are that it's the exposition to *parasites* that keeps the IgE/mast-cell system busy as it was intended in the first place.
This avoids that it starts attacking harmless stuff like food or animal secretion, in unlucky people which have a genetic predisposition to allergies (i.e: hyperactive immune system which gets easily bored and which can't stand staying idle)

Re:Knew This For Years (1)

Pyrion (525584) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221316)

Yup. I used to be very allergic to long-haired cat dander. It'd set off an asthma attack (was diagnosed with asthma as a child, never used the inhaler, rarely ever had asthma attacks, nowadays it's only secondhand smoke that sets it off). The unintended incidental solution: several years of exposure to cats as pets, both short-haired and long-haired. I don't have a problem with them anymore.

good (1)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220382)

What else can we do to rid ourselves of the helicopter parent phenomenon?

Re:good (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30220550)

In a way it has been legislated that parents have to be helicopter parents. Example car seats. Car seats of are so much work and yet for children over 2, they are no better than seat belts. abcnews [go.com]

So we need to stop believing(and legislating) everything about safety and health.

Re:good (1)

eviloverlordx (99809) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220666)

Car seats of are so much work and yet for children over 2, they are no better than seat belts.

Well, until auto makers start designing cars with child-sized seatbelts, I'm afraid we're stuck with them. As a parent of a toddler with another child on the way, the amount of extra work a child seat represents is miniscule compared to trying to get a three year old to pay attention.

Re:good (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221044)

IIRC [one of?] the authors of Freakonomics has pointed out that a study has shown that kids in car seats don't fare better in car crashes than kids in seat belts (the seat belts that exist already). Sorry, I don't have a citation.

All things in balance!!!! (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220450)

Geez! I have always said that in order to keep the immune and other systems working, they have to be used and worked. HOWEVER, it would also be stupid to overdo it as well. Keeping one's immune system overly burdened and busy could possibly cause some other sort of breakdown or failure just as the systems in the body that process sugars tend to break when overloaded. We call that diabetes don't we?

So yes, don't keep the kids sterilized. But don't immerse them in crap either. That's just stupid.

Re:All things in balance!!!! (1)

RJFerret (1279530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220740)

So yes, don't keep the kids sterilized. But don't immerse them in crap either. That's just stupid.

Actually, there was a report [innovations-report.com] a few years ago showing children raised on farms were less prone to allergies than those raised in fertilizer-less environs.

Bring on the crap.

Re:All things in balance!!!! (2, Funny)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220804)

I have two kids in daycare and I bike to work. (Biking gets mud and puddle water on my face regularly.) I also SCUBA dive, and we don't treat our sewage here. (Primary screening, but no secondary treatment.)

I eat in pubs, work out at the Y, hardly ever wash out my water bottle, and I just licked my keyboard.

Mortal germs can't live in here.

Re:All things in balance!!!! (1)

sowth (748135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221338)

Yes. Especially with food. HUS [wikipedia.org] is caused by E. coli. Not good to have. It can cause kidney failure.

In fact, I suspect I may have had HUS as a kid. My parents were not very good about food safety and force fed me undercooked meat on a regular basis. I got food poisoning quite a bit. By the time I was six or so, I knew to avoid any meat which was pink inside, though my parents would insist I eat it anyway. Probably why I was physically weak as a teenager and adult. May have damaged my kidneys as well.

Re:All things in balance!!!! (3, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221480)

I love rare meat. There is probably more to it than just that.

People think, for whatever reason, that being cold is the reason they would catch a cold...virus. They continue thinking so in spite of the common knowledge that one can catch a cold in 100+ degree temperatures in the day. Some things such as colder temperatures can and will put the body's systems under stress, but if you are reasonably healthy, you will likely be fine and be able to resist a cold virus.

With that said, meats that have been mishandled will tend to contain bacteria that could lead to food poisoning. Completely raw meat that has been handled carefully will never lead to food poisoning. In the past, the act of cooking food was a means to rid it of any infectious diseases or to otherwise make it edible. Today cooking still serves that purpose but is also something of an art form in which cooking with heat is varied and handled in a wide variety of ways. It is well known that sashimi meats from a variety of sources including beef is fairly common. My point is that it is actually the handling of the food that leads to problems with food and that proper handling can prevent many of the problems that cooking with heat are there to resolve.

I feel pretty sure that my discussion here will not change your mind as a great deal of your belief is based on illness and other bad experiences from childhood and those tend to run pretty deep in the psyche. (This is why it's pretty hard to convince most religious people that modern day religions are no different from any other and are especially similar to even the most silly sounding myths.) But since you are here on Slashdot, there is a pretty good chance you have a rational and logical core and will analyze the obvious facts before you.

With all that said, I am not suggesting you eat raw beef from a local grocery store. Some grocery stores have REALLY good meat departments.... others do not. You really have to know what you are getting into when it comes to meat -- it is still an extremely risky food when compared to others.

The General Case (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220472)

(A) dirty ___(fill in blank)___ is (a) healthy ___(fill in blank)___.

  1. sex
  2. old man

Any others?

Re:The General Case (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30220936)

Doesn't seem to work with operating systems. Have you cleaned your Windows lately?

Supply and demand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30220476)

These bacteria "eat" something... and they excrete something too... maybe one of these has something to do with it?

Dichotomy (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220500)

  • Clean mind
  • Clean body
  • Take your pick

This is why I keep buckets of mud on the . . . (2, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220536)

. . . front porch.

When I dump it on those damn kids, they get off my lawn, without me saying a word . . .

. . . and I'm doing something good for their health.

Hey, maybe this a good idea for the new government health plan.

Lady: "Doctor, my kid needs antibiotics!"

Doctor: "Sorry, lady . . . have some mud."

Re:This is why I keep buckets of mud on the . . . (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30221604)

Aw, dang it! Now "Death Panel Palin" is going to get up there on TV and tell us how that Evil Old Big Gummint is gonna deny us poor honest Real American folks access to dirt!

Nietzsche was right - that which doesn't kill us . (0, Flamebait)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220660)

the more germs a child is exposed to, the better

*cough* swine flu *cough*

Re:Nietzsche was right - that which doesn't kill u (1)

electrons_are_brave (1344423) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220932)

A lot of our increased life expectancy is to do with basic hygiene and the availability of germ-killing substances. But -as always - advertisers have exploited this respect for germs and turned it to maddness.

I don't know about other parts of the world, but in Australia, hospital-grade disinfectants are available for household use, which is just idiotic unless typhoid has struck recently. We are breeding some very hardy germs while rooting our immune systems.

Re:Nietzsche was right - that which doesn't kill u (1)

wertigon (1204486) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221116)

Oh Em Gee! A disease that so far has killed around 8 000 people WORLDWIDE is going to make the world go under! It might even kill as many as 20 000! ... Like, seriously, what the hell. 20k is a drop in the ocean. With those statistics, you're more likely to die in a traffic accident (~100 000 deaths a year, in the US alone), cancer (~500 000 deaths - in the US alone) or heartattacks (~450 000 deaths in the US alone) than in the Swine flu.

Death sucks, being sick sucks as well. But let's face it - The swine flu, as far as health hazards go, is mostly overrated.

Re:Nietzsche was right - that which doesn't kill u (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30221302)

But let's face it - The swine flu, as far as health hazards go, is mostly overrated.

This time. Sooner or later one like 1918 will come around.

Re:Nietzsche was right - that which doesn't kill u (2, Insightful)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221528)

Annual traffic deaths in the US are about 40,000 a year, including pedestrians, and trending down. 2008 is the first year to break under 40,000. 1950s, 1960s, the annual rate was about 55,000. Thank improved technology and (maybe) increased social disdain of drunken driving.

Re:Nietzsche was right - that which doesn't kill u (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30221160)

it's not really as deadly (very seldomly deadly actually) to healthy people as a normal flu but it's easier to contract.

As Seen on TV (1)

alanjstr (131045) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220726)

Just a week or two ago, that was the subject of the tv show House. Hooray for science following up on the media!

Good to see confirming research (1)

geek2k5 (882748) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220812)

It is good to see some additional research confirming the hypothesis that too clean an environment is hazardous for the health of kids.

Captain Obvious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30220852)

Strikes again!

Booger Eeating Children (1)

LowlyWorm (966676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220872)

Booger eating seems almost universal in young children (and others). The upper airways are the first line of defense in our immune systems. There may be some biological impetus. It would be interesting to see studies that measure the frequency of colds and infection in frequent booger eaters. Someone else may have already proposed this hypothesis, but I have arrived at it independently. Does anyone know of any studies?

Re:Booger Eeating Children (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30221006)

Actually... (Random factoid follows) A lot of the weird biological urges we get used to have some useful self-diagnostic function in the distant past :
For example farting - it's been said that your own farts (you know you love it..) seem more appealing to you because smelling it (rather than running away) would indicate when you ate something really bad (bad as in too rotten mammoth rather than 3am kebab)

Re:Booger Eeating Children (1)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221470)

Uh... duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30220890)

Leave it to scientists to come up with a study to prove common sense

Known this for years. (3, Interesting)

Beowulf_Boy (239340) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220928)

I'm not a "dirty" person, but I also don't wash my hands all the time (of course I do after taking a crap, but thats a bit different).

Antibacterial soaps have only landed us in more trouble, since the bacteria left are resistant to them. I do like the idea of the new alcohol based cleaners though, since they aren't antibacterial.

I don't stress out about making sure my pork is cooked all the way through, I don't scrub down my kitchen with bleach every day, and I also never get sick.
Compare this to others I know that are neat freaks, and tend to get really sick a few times a year and seem to get horribly sick every time they eat something a bit off. I've eaten the same shitty chinese food or tacos as someone else and while they were getting violently ill and had the shits for a few days, I didn't feel a thing.

Re:Known this for years. (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221104)

I don't even use soap, I just wash my hands with water, except when I do the dishes or have a shower. What's the point of using soap again? No seriously, why do we tell people to wash their hands with soap?

Living the bachelor lifestyle and I never get sick.. when I was a teenager I was a neat freak (the 'take your toothbrush to school' kind) and I'd get the flu with hallucinations-inducing fevers. Granted your immune system is supposed to be stronger as an adult, and not going to school you mix up with less people.

Re:Known this for years. (2, Funny)

Macrat (638047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221594)

...I'd get the flu with hallucinations-inducing fevers.

Really mom! I'm not high! I have a hallucination inducing fever!

Re:Known this for years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30221110)

I do like the idea of the new alcohol based cleaners though, since they aren't antibacterial.

Last time I checked, alcohol was antibacterial.

Re:Known this for years. (5, Funny)

markass530 (870112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221184)

George carlin said it best "You know when I wash my hands after I use the bathroom? When I piss or crap on them, which is 2, 3 times a week tops.

Re:Known this for years. (2, Insightful)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221648)

Urine is usually pretty clean from a bacterial standpoint; you want to get it off your hands mostly because it smells bad and stains fabrics. (Rinsing is adequate.) But the whole crotch is damp and warm, an ideal place for the development of bacteria. Guys should clean their hands after urinating because they've touched an area rich in bacteria that like to live on humans, and spreading it to another person isn't very nice.

Marketing (1)

JobyOne (1578377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220934)

So how long until some clown patents getting muddy?

They'll be selling us carefully crafted biologically active dirt before too long.

This reminds me of when somebody discovered that a lot of the extra mobility you find in elderly Japanese people compared to Americans could be attributed to their frequent walks outside on uneven surfaces. Being the silly fools that we are, American medicine's answer wasn't the obvious "take walks outside."

No. Somebody invented a stupid mat with fake plastic cobblestones on top of it. Now old people get to walk back and forth on a 3 foot mat in the comfort of their own homes instead of - you know - taking a damn walk.

Are Americans so useless that given the news that taking walks is good for us we would prefer to walk back and forth on this abomination? [amazon.com] It's probably so that they can more comfortably eat Cheesy Blasters and watch reality TV while they get their "exercise."

Reality. Who needs it?

While I think this is true... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30220978)

Speaking as a 35 year old who regularly played in the dirt during my childhood, I'd have to anecdotally agree with this study. As and adult, I get sick about once ever four or five years.

However, much like sports training or academic studying, work + rest = results. Anyone who trains without rest will eventually over-train and become weaker. The same can be applied to studying, and most likely the the immune system.

Being exposed to mud may be good for the immune system, but I suspect being filthy 24 hours a day isn't. Let your child get as muddy as he/she wants to be, but at the end of the day, clean up and get a good night's rest to allow the body to repair and build.

Score for geeks! (1)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30220990)

Computer nerds have a stereotype of not showering (as often as they should). Finally, we can feel free to live better through living funky. :D

...

What? Am I the only one here who fits this stereotype?

realization (2, Funny)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221008)

It is suddenly clear to me: My mother wanted me dead!

Carlin Quote (1)

hoagieslapper (593527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221102)

I was tempered in raw sewage!

Re:Carlin Quote (1)

zoloto (586738) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221220)

Asshole, armpits, crotch and teeth. Preferably with the same brush!

Biting Fingernails? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30221142)

I've bitten my fingernails since I can remember. And I very rarely get ill, before even reading this article. I justified my biting as training my immune system to be stronger. Guess I was right?

38 or more years old news. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30221194)

This has been a known fact for years. I remember a story back when I was a kid about a mother wanting to sue a doctor for telling her to let her son get dirty. She was a neat freak and wouldn't let her son play outside because he would get dirty. When the son kept getting sick, she took him to the doctor to find out why. She said she was shocked when the doctor told her to let her son play outside in the dirt and mud. The doctor won the case because his reasoning was sound and proper. The son needed to get dirty for the reasons stated in the article plus he also needed fresh air and exercise.

Now if this was know at least 38 years ago, why is a college spending money on research of already known facts now?

Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger (1)

RazorSharp (1418697) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221204)

I think this has been fairly well known for years and everyone believes it except OCD hand-washers and nurses (seriously, I don't know what they teach in nursing school, but every nurse I've ever met was a freak about cleanliness). This is the same reason I don't take flu-vaccines because getting the flu does the same damn thing. It'll just mutate and my immune system will have to figure out a way to fight the mutated virus, so vaccines do no good (note: flu vaccines, not vaccines for polio or measles, I'm not an anti-vaccine freak, I'm just against unnecessary ones). I understand cleaning your kids, but they shouldn't be conditioned to fear dirt.

Also, on a related note, anti-bacterial soap is bad.

Re:Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221242)

seriously, I don't know what they teach in nursing school, but every nurse I've ever met was a freak about cleanliness

What they teach them is that getting microbes into the insides of a person is much more likely to kill someone than make them stronger. And they're right.

Same with software (4, Funny)

JuzzFunky (796384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221438)

I find the more bugs I introduce at the start of the project, the better the users are at dealing with bugs later on...

real data available (3, Interesting)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 4 years ago | (#30221446)

The top scientist is R Gallo at the Dept of Dermatology, Univ California San Diego. I couldn't find a mention on his web site, but the link below lists all his pubished papers.
From the abstracts, I would speculate that the idea is something like this

the normal skin bacteria - the microflora - secrete various antimicrobials peptides, that is compounds which are toxic to other bacteria. If you wash to much, you don't have the right peptides on your skin. at th bottom is an abstract from a recent paper

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=search&db=pubmed&term=Gallo%20RL [nih.gov]

from this, the following article appears to have the clearest abstract:

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Sep;124(3 Suppl 2):R13-8.
Antimicrobial peptides and the skin immune defense system.

Schauber J, Gallo RL.

Department of Dermatology and Allergology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany.

Our skin is constantly challenged by microbes but is rarely infected. Cutaneous production of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) is a primary system for protection, and expression of some AMPs further increases in response to microbial invasion. Cathelicidins are unique AMPs that protect the skin through 2 distinct pathways: (1) direct antimicrobial activity and (2) initiation of a host response resulting in cytokine release, inflammation, angiogenesis, and reepithelialization. Cathelicidin dysfunction emerges as a central factor in the pathogenesis of several cutaneous diseases, including atopic dermatitis, in which cathelicidin is suppressed; rosacea, in which cathelicidin peptides are abnormally processed to forms that induce inflammation; and psoriasis, in which cathelicidin peptide converts self-DNA to a potent stimulus in an autoinflammatory cascade. Recent work identified vitamin D3 as a major factor involved in the regulation of cathelicidin. Therapies targeting control of cathelicidin and other AMPs might provide new approaches in the management of infectious and inflammatory skin diseases.

PMID: 19720207 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

an article of interest
J Invest Dermatol. 2009 Aug 27. [Epub ahead of print]
Selective Antimicrobial Action Is Provided by Phenol-Soluble Modulins Derived from Staphylococcus epidermidis, a Normal Resident of the Skin.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>