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Being Too Clean Can Make People Sick

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the but-not-vice-versa dept.

Medicine 333

An anonymous reader writes "Young people who are overexposed to antibacterial soaps containing triclosan may suffer more allergies, and exposure to higher levels of Bisphenol A among adults may negatively influence the immune system, a new University of Michigan School of Public Health study suggests (abstract, full paper [PDF]). Triclosan is a chemical compound widely used in products such as antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, pens, diaper bags and medical devices. Bisphenol A is found in many plastics and, for example, as a protective lining in food cans. Both of these chemicals are in a class of environmental toxicants called endocrine-disrupting compounds, which are believed to negatively impact human health by mimicking or affecting hormones."

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333 comments

No shit ! (5, Funny)

Picardo85 (1408929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379384)

nuff said

Re:No shit ! (1)

korkwin (1648679) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379506)

My thoughts exactly.

Re:No shit ! (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379586)

On the contrary, it would appear that a lack of shit is the problem. "More shit!" would be a more appropriate response.

I've never been sick (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34379386)

Bath in my own urine, I do... I've never been sick a day in my life

Re:I've never been sick (2, Funny)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379580)

Bath in my own urine, I do... I've never been sick a day in my life

You'll also probably never had a date in your life too..

Re:I've never been sick (2, Informative)

Kosi (589267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379782)

You'll also probably never had a date in your life too..

Hey, even Zappa sang about the Golden Shower, there are more girls who like that out there than you imagine!

Re:I've never been sick (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379868)

R. Kelly posts on Slashdot now?

Re:I've never been sick (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34379684)

if gender==female then (send pix|vidz!)

Urine is clean (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379936)

Sterile actually.

Re:Urine is clean (2, Informative)

keeboo (724305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380136)

Unfortunately once urine is exposed to air, bacteria start to process that into something unpleasant.
Canned food is sterile too, but it will eventually rot if left opened.

Re:Urine is clean (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380190)

But do you like the taste?

Re:I've never been sick (1)

Picardo85 (1408929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379968)

technically i don't think that counts ... urine is clean... it doesn't contain any bacteria or viruses (except possible STDs)

Blast from the past? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34379406)

Then what?.. lets go back to basics?

Re:Blast from the past? (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379686)

Yeah, java 'n all that new stuff is just too . . . clean.

Anti-bacterial soap will kill you all. (5, Insightful)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379424)

But it won't kill me, because I won't use them. In the past 20 years or so we have become so afraid of dirt that our kids will have practically no immune system at all.

Re:Anti-bacterial soap will kill you all. (2, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379520)

Heck, if you can get a kid to wash their hands as often as they should - let alone use soap every time, you should write a parenting book.

Re:Anti-bacterial soap will kill you all. (2, Informative)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379702)

No kidding. I wince at the nastiness my nephews, nieces and their friends more or less wallow in, but they seem generally healthy and happy. From a clean adult viewpoint I still think children are best handled with latex gloves and lengthy tongs.

Re:Anti-bacterial soap will kill you all. (4, Funny)

viking099 (70446) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380016)

Well, they're not so bad after a run through the autoclave.

Re:Anti-bacterial soap will kill you all. (4, Interesting)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380010)

My kids will turn on the taps, wait, and then turn the taps off just to avoid washing their hands. I was asking why the towel wasn't damp and they started rinsing their hands. Pests.

I stopped caring about germs. I bike to work, I exercise at the Y (26 minutes ago, excellent!), I have one kid in school and one in daycare, I SCUBA dive in the ocean (we discharge screened sewage here), and I eat at a pub about once a week on average. (the chefs there don't exactly use antibacterial soaps...) I've had someone puke in my mouth. (My daughter; she was very young and the game was very high.) Normal germs don't stand a chance in my body.

I licked my keyboard while I was posting this. I'm not afraid of germs.

Re:Anti-bacterial soap will kill you all. (2, Funny)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380162)

Oh yeah? I licked YOUR keyboard while reading your post.
Bring it on.

Re:Anti-bacterial soap will kill you all. (4, Funny)

krazytekn0 (1069802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379536)

which is why my poop eating, dirt crawling, ringwormed, 2 year old that I let play in a pile of wood with rusty nails sticking out, will RULE THE WORLD

Re:Anti-bacterial soap will kill you all. (4, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379724)

I think the idea is to stimulate the immune system, not overwhelm it.

Re:Anti-bacterial soap will kill you all. (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380316)

Which is what a Vaccine is for.

Re:Anti-bacterial soap will kill you all. (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379556)

Let's just tag this story Carlin and be done with it.

Re:Anti-bacterial soap will kill you all. (1)

heathen_01 (1191043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379656)

But it won't kill me, because I won't use them. In the past 20 years or so we have become so afraid of dirt that our kids will have practically no immune system at all.

Well it may kill you. Especially if one of the soap using people grow a particularly bad strain of bacteria and then spread it to you.

Re:Anti-bacterial soap will kill you all. (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380302)

Guess what, if anti-bacterials produce a nasty superbug that goes around killing everyone, it'll be your problem too.

I've suspected this for years. (1)

Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379434)

I've suspected for years that the use of antibacterial soap would prove problematic as it promotes the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Life always finds a way...

Re:I've suspected this for years. (3, Informative)

maxwells_deamon (221474) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379560)

Antibacterial soap does not contain antibiotics. It contains simpler chemicals (alcohol, etc) which kill cells on contact. Antibiotics are more specific

Re:I've suspected this for years. (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379778)

Antibacterial soap does not contain antibiotics. It contains simpler chemicals (alcohol, etc) which kill cells on contact. Antibiotics are more specific

But the GP's point remains. Bacteria will evolve to be less sensitive to these chemicals over time. After all, the chemicals couldn't be all that harsh if putting them on your skin does no immediate harm.

Re:I've suspected this for years. (2, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380042)

Actually, it's quite harmful to living cells, especially when they aren't in a supportive environment. Your hands aren't harmed because they're protected by a layer of dead cells and under that there IS a supportive environment.

Bacteria are about as likely to evolve resistance to anti-bacterial soap as we are to evolve resistance to being run over by a bus.

Re:I've suspected this for years. (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380284)

Bacteria are about as likely to evolve resistance to anti-bacterial soap as we are to evolve resistance to being run over by a bus.

Give us some time. We haven't been driving buses all that long.

If bacteria can live under 4000 feet of volcanic rock I suspect that over the long haul, its the soap that doesn't stand a chance.
http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ncs/newsarch/2003/Dec03/bacteria.htm [oregonstate.edu]

Re:I've suspected this for years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34380322)

Consider that bacteria outnumber humans on earth by many orders of magnitude, and evolve much faster by many orders of magnitude. Were we given the same scale of number and time, along with sufficient enough buses threatening the population, we would almost certainly evolve to resist "being run over by a bus."

In fact, bacteria have already done this. Certain strains (spore-formers in particular like c-diff) can survive exposure to hard vacuum, radiation, bleach, alcohol and peroxide. And c-diff has even evolved to the point that it is 'sticky' and cannot easily be washed off of soapy surfaces.

Re:I've suspected this for years. (5, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380268)

Antibacterial soap does not contain antibiotics. It contains simpler chemicals (alcohol, etc) which kill cells on contact.

Alcohol is usually found in hand sanitizers, not soap. Antibacterial soap usually contains triclosan, which is similar to antibiotics in that it gradually interferes with a part of bacterial metabolism that humans don't have. It prevents bacterial growth over time, but doesn't kill instantly. As with antibiotics, some bacteria have evolved resistance to triclosan due to constant exposure.

Hand sanitizers are mostly alcohol, which is immediately highly disruptive of many biological processes. Since it evaporates away after use, long term chronic exposure shouldn't be a problem. At any rate, if alcohol could breed dangerous resistance, then the Jack Daniels distillery would have been ground zero for superbug outbreaks decades ago.

I personally find it highly annoying that almost all liquid hand soaps on the market contain triclosan. (So much for the "wisdom" of free markets. The potential problems with triclosan, and its lack of effectiveness in preventing disease have been common knowledge for many years now.) We go out of our way to only buy Ivory, which is the one brand that seems to not include triclosan (or any annoying scents either), but it's not always easy to find.

Re:I've suspected this for years. (3, Informative)

jpstanle (1604059) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380350)

Why is the parent modded informative? While the antibacterials used in soap are not really an antibiotic, the rest of the post is wrong. Most antibacterial soaps contain triclosan, which when used in concentrations it is use in soaps decidedly does NOT kill on contact and merely inhibits reproduction of the bacteria cells.

Unlike commercial hand sanitizers that usually utilize ethanol to kill on contact, the triclosan [wikipedia.org] used in antibacterial soaps is relatively simple for bacterial populations to develop resistance against.

Re:I've suspected this for years. (4, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379664)

Except instead of your "hey wouldn't it be totally ironic if anti-bacterial soap made people SICKER!!??" observation, they have identified Triclosan and Bisphenol A as an endocrine disruptor with the specific function of inhibiting the immune system not by protecting it from exposure or selectively breeding resistant germs (the two popular "well duh" observations here) but by actually inhibiting the effectiveness of the immune system. Knowing this, as opposed to say "knowing that for sure, antibacterial soaps are totally bad because they don't let your body *learn* about bad germs!!!" is what leads to advances in medicine and pathogen control.

I'm not a doctor but I appreciate what they do.

Re:I've suspected this for years. (4, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380198)

Except instead of your "hey wouldn't it be totally ironic if anti-bacterial soap made people SICKER!!??" observation, they have identified Triclosan and Bisphenol A as an endocrine disruptor with the specific function of inhibiting the immune system not by protecting it from exposure or selectively breeding resistant germs (the two popular "well duh" observations here) but by actually inhibiting the effectiveness of the immune system. Knowing this, as opposed to say "knowing that for sure, antibacterial soaps are totally bad because they don't let your body *learn* about bad germs!!!" is what leads to advances in medicine and pathogen control.

I'm not a doctor but I appreciate what they do.

Let's not get hasty here. They took some data previously collected:

Methods: Using data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, we compared urinary bisphenol A (BPA) and triclosan with serum cytomegalovirus antibody levels and diagnosis of allergies or hayfever in US adults and children age 6 years. We used multivariate ordinary least squares linear regression models to examine the association of BPA and triclosan with cytomegalovirus antibody titers, and multivariate logistic regression models to investigate the association of these chemicals with allergy/hayfever diagnosis. Statistical models were stratified by age (

Then ran a series of statistical tests to see if there were any correlations between the body burden of BPA and triclosan and putative proxies for immune function (CMV titer and hayfever diagnosis).

They "adjusted" for a bunch of variables and come out with a correlation between the markers and their effects. They then go on to state that the chemicals may depress immune function.

It may be true but this sort of analysis is prone to a host of problems - poor data collection, poor data analysis, over correlation by the statistical software and god knows what else by the statistical software (disclaimer - I've only read the abstract, I don't know exactly how they did it but unless they have a very good statistician looking over their shoulders, they open to making any one of a number of mistakes).

And of course, our favorite logical fallacy: Correlation implying Causation. Specifically, the charge that the endocrine disruption mechanism of BPA and Triclosan is the cause of the immune changes is not addressed at all. It's simply assumed.

Unfortunately, this is like the vast majority of the literature in these areas. Because good science is so hard to do, we gets lots of these little studies that may or may not mean much of anything. They're fine, it's the way we have to do things, but don't flush all of the soap down the toilet.

Re:I've suspected this for years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34379852)

So being messy and unclean bingo it works :) clean freaks beware

Yawn (4, Interesting)

Kosi (589267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379480)

It's not new that our immune system has to be trained to work well. And only some kind of idiot doesn't make the link that keeping the kids away from every source of infection must result in an inferior immune system. Where's the news here?

Wake up and read (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34379632)

It's not new that our immune system has to be trained to work well. And only some kind of idiot doesn't make the link that keeping the kids away from every source of infection must result in an inferior immune system. Where's the news here?

Except that this proves almost the opposite. It's not that their immune systems are not working; it's that, in the absence of real targets (bacteria) the immune system is targeting harmless compounds (allergens.)

Re:Wake up and read (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379728)

ie it's inferior. Not necessarily less active.

Re:Wake up and read (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379918)

That is not the Opposite of the GP's statement.

If anything you've proven his point.

Further, I think you misread the article.

Conclusions: Endocrine-disrupting chemicals like BPA and triclosan may negatively impact human immune function as measured by CMV antibody levels and allergy/hayfever diagnosis, respectively, with differential consequences based on age.

So rather than your assertion that "the immune system is targeting harmless compounds" the facts are that the immune system is not functioning up to par (depressed CMV antibody levels) thereby allowing higher levels of allergy/hayfever.

Re:Wake up and read (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379958)

It's not that their immune systems are not working; it's that, in the absence of real targets (bacteria) the immune system is targeting harmless compounds (allergens.)

So if an anti-tank auto targeting mechanism, in the absence of baddies, starts targeting passenger cars, that wouldn't fall under the category of "not working"?

Re:Wake up and read (1)

brian_tanner (1022773) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380058)

It's not a matter of "working fine" vs. "not working". GP point (I think) is that it works just as well as it always has. The problem isn't that the immune system's performance has changed.

Re:Wake up and read (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380096)

the immune system is targeting harmless compounds (allergens.)

Lmao at this statement!

Allergens are hardly harmless.

Re:Yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34379694)

Also, coddling your children will make them less likely to be able to handle real life when they grow up, inconsistency and failing to back up threats of punishment lead to kids who disrespect their parents, and other general parenting advice that modern parents seem to ignore.

Re:Yawn (4, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379742)

It's not new that our immune system has to be trained to work well. And only some kind of idiot doesn't make the link that keeping the kids away from every source of infection must result in an inferior immune system. Where's the news here?

What's new, it seems (even by reading the summary and not venturing near TFA) is that the story has NOTHING to do with "training" the immune system. Instead the study was on how endocrine inhibitors influenced immune system effectiveness. Strangely, they made no mention of the "kids who played with dirt vs. kids who were kept in a hermetic bubble" research that so many on slashdot are fond of reciting.

Re:Yawn (1, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379798)

'Antibacterial' soap kills almost no bacteria that regular old soap doesn't. It is a marketing term that means nothing in the world of reality because soap itself destroys most strains of bacteria on contact. Therefore, this is something more going on here than just "not enough germs weakens immune system". The actual article is about possible negative effects that some chemicals, including Triclosan which is one ingredient used to make 'antibacterial' soap, have on the immune system.

Re:Yawn (4, Informative)

gordguide (307383) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380128)

'Antibacterial' soap kills almost no bacteria that regular old soap doesn't. It is a marketing term that means nothing in the world of reality because soap itself destroys most strains of bacteria on contact. Therefore, this is something more going on here than just "not enough germs weakens immune system". ...

Not true, actually. Soap simply breaks the bond between your skin and the oils your body produces. These oils are what prevents plain water from washing away bacteria.

So, washing with ordinary soap washes away bacteria; it does not kill them.

Antibacterial soaps do kill many of the bacteria, while also washing them away (as it is, after all, soap). By antibacterial soaps we are talking about products like Irish Spring; by ordinary soap we are talking about products like Ivory bar soap.

No antibacterial agent (that you can safely use in the home) kills 100% of the flora it's exposed to, and no soap washes away 100% it's exposed to.

Your body needs some types of bacteria to be healthy; as does your own skin. You don't really want to be killing helpful bacteria; you are less healthy as a result, but antibacterial agents are non-discriminatory. They kill the good with the bad. So, there's one problem with antibacterial soaps.

With ordinary soap, you wash away a large amount of bacteria but helpful bacteria remain in enough quantity that they can reproduce and do their helpful job.

Also, bacteria are able over time to resist agents deployed to kill them. So, if you use antibacterial soaps where ordinary soap would do, you end up with "superbug" infestations, like ordinary staph bacteria that morphs into aggressive agents that infect wounds in hospitals and are extremely difficult to control. There's the second problem with antibacterial soaps.

Use ordinary soap, wash as often as required, and live a healthy life. It's not complex.

Re:Yawn (3, Insightful)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379944)

The news here is that there maybe a link between chemicals used in antibacterial soaps, etc, and immume disfunction (over activity - allergies/etc).

This is NOT at all the same as the trite observation that your immune system (mostly) needs to be exposed to stuff to protect you from it. Lack of protection isn't the same as disfunction, and this isn't about NOT being exposed to anything - it's about BEING exposed to something (certain harmful chemicals).

Of course, correlation isn't causation, and it's not necessarily the chemicals cited that are causing the disfucntion, so (as the authors conclude) this only incidates the need for further study.

Re:Yawn (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380078)

i guess you have never met the cause of all this, Mommy

i come home with my son i don't care if we wash our hands. if he gets sick, who cares. good for him. my wife like my mom and other women is a clean freak especially with personal hygiene. i tried to explain to her that the anti-bacterial soaps are bad, but it's not registering. to a lot of women anything that kills germs is good

Almost new information (3, Insightful)

Saishuuheiki (1657565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379510)

Now the article suggests that it could either be caused by the hygiene or the chemicals used in the cleaners.

Now if this study was well done and had some control groups, say other forms of cleaners, we might learn something we didn't already know.

Re:Almost new information (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379934)

I didn't bother to read the article as the summary contains no information. Here is a logically equivalent summary:

"Young people who are overexposed to antibacterial soaps containing triclosan may NOT suffer more allergies, and exposure to higher levels of Bisphenol A among adults may NOT negatively influence the immune system, a new University of Michigan School of Public Health study suggests (abstract, full paper [PDF]). Triclosan is a chemical compound widely used in products such as antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, pens, diaper bags and medical devices. Bisphenol A is found in many plastics and, for example, as a protective lining in food cans. Both of these chemicals are in a class of environmental toxicants called endocrine-disrupting compounds, which are believed WITHOUT PROOF to negatively impact human health by mimicking or affecting hormones."

The only reason to choose the form of the summary used rather than the logically equivalent one I have presented is to scare people who are too stupid to realize that the summary is content-free. It says exactly the same thing as its logical negatation: nothing.

Re:Almost new information (3, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380002)

Now the article suggests that it could either be caused by the hygiene or the chemicals used in the cleaners.

Now if this study was well done and had some control groups, say other forms of cleaners, we might learn something we didn't already know.

The article suggests what now? Did you read it? No. You did not read the article. Do you know how I know you did not read the article? Because I read the article, and it suggests nothing of the sort. This was not a test of soaps and cleaners. And you know what? I'm not going to tell you what the article actually says. If you want to know why you are wrong, and why you are not smarter than a science reporter, let alone an actual scientist, go read the article.

Re:Almost new information (1)

Saishuuheiki (1657565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380304)

I did read the article...and yes, it does also mention different negative effects on the immune system of adults vs children, and then effectively says 'We don't know exactly what caused this' and 'although we found more allergies in children, this may actually be the cause of more cleaning rather than a effect'.

So the end of the article itself suggests 'These things we thought may be true may still be true, but this doesn't prove anything'

Re:Almost new information (2, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380188)

Now the article suggests that it could either be caused by the hygiene or the chemicals used in the cleaners.

Now if this study was well done and had some control groups, say other forms of cleaners, we might learn something we didn't already know.

Quoting from the Abstract:

Results: In analyses adjusted for age, sex, race, BMI, creatinine levels, family income, and educational attainment, ... compared urinary bisphenol A (BPA) and triclosan with serum cytomegalovirus antibody levels

So by measuring urinary bisphenol A they have a built in "control group" of sorts. Since BPA is not cleared rapidly from the body according to studies cited in the full paper, this allows them to gauge the amount of exposure to these chemicals. They then compared exposure levels to diagnosed infections and allergies.

The study had nothing to do with soap use or any specific products. Simply measuring the levels of long-lived chemicals in the blood and correlating that with diagnosis.

I'm not a slob! (2, Funny)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379564)

I'm just being healthy.

Two completely different claims (5, Insightful)

SpeedyDX (1014595) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379568)

One claim is that being too clean makes people unhealthy. The other is that triclosan and BPA make people unhealthy. Those are two very distinct and different claims. The latter claim is what this study seems to prove, while the former claim seems completely unsubstantiated by this study according to TFA.

If those antibacterial products could have been made with a compound other than triclosan, would cleanliness still have a negative impact on health?

Further, the closing comment on the article makes another good point:

"It is possible, for example, that individuals who have an allergy are more hygienic because of their condition, and that the relationship we observed is, therefore, not causal or is an example of reverse causation," Aiello said.

So really, there seems to be NOTHING in support of the claim that being too clean makes people unhealthy.

This is either another case of journalistic ignorance or journalistic sensationalism. But seeing as the journal is called Medical Daily, you'd expect them to have at least a minimum amount of knowledge and insight.

Re:Two completely different claims (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379804)

I would say that both claims are correct in different ways. The moderate-longterm cases of what triclosan are still being figured out nearly 40 years later. And being too clean *is* bad for you. Your immune system is built around a reaction based result. That's been known for a long time. Which is one of the reasons that the whole vacuum sealed housing with HEPA filters bugs the piss out of me. Along with the *we must purify* mentality.

People are dirty. The environment is filthy, but our bodies long ago figured out ways to keep us alive when we 'eat bad stuff' or go and slice ourselves open on a rock, or pick up things that will make us sick from the air and water.

Meh this will end up like many other things. People arguing back and forth over whether you're better off being exposed to the world, or better being sealed up in your bubble. I'll take the exposed to the world approach thanks.

Re:Two completely different claims (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380040)

While I agree with you thatother studies have shown that being too clean has negative effects on the immune system, this study has absolutely nothing to do with that, and thus the headline is completely misleading.

Re:Two completely different claims (1)

ninja59 (1029474) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379846)

I whole heartedly agree with your argument except for the last part. A medical journal with the word "Daily" in its name is bound to be sensational or ignorant. While things move fast in medicine, our understanding of how and why stuff works does not. Meaningful studies almost always take years or even decades to do and then sometimes you don't even know how you screwed it up until your done and you have to start again, from zero.

Re:Two completely different claims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34379850)

Medical Daily seems to be some kinda research PR portal - not a "journal" with articles of depth.

Re:Two completely different claims (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380056)

There was a study a few years back that children raised in the cleanest households were more likely to have allergies and be asthmatic than those raised in households with a small amount of dirt. The authors of the study speculated that this was due to pet dander (their observation was that the difference between the very clean households and the not-so-clean households in their study was the presence of pets). They suggested that a followup study should be conducted to test this explanation. I have yet to see such a study be conducted. The interesting thing about the study was that the incidence of asthma and allergies was reduced as the households got cleaner until a certain point was reached and then the trend reversed.

Nothing new (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34379570)

The 1954 study by the Public Health Service and the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP) study already found that out about polio when they did the Salk vaccine field trial: "But polio is a disease of hygiene. A child who lives in less hygienic surroundings is more likely to contact a mild case of polio early in childhood , while still protected by antibodies from its mother. After being infected, these children generate their own antibodies, which protect them against more severe infection later. Children who live in more hygienic surroundings do not develop such antibodies" (Source: "Statistics" page 4, by David Freedman, Robert Pisani & Roger Purves, publisher: Norton)

Marketing Gone Wrong (3, Interesting)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379574)

I place a lot of blame on the marketing people for this. Soap manufacturers were the first. Despite the fact that soap already kills like 99% of the germs on contact, soap marketers started dumping stuff like triclosan into their products to tout their "antibacterial effects". Now triclosan and its ilk are in everything and everyone must have it, even if it's completely pointless. Seriously, do we really need triclosan covered toothbrushes? Has anyone in the past 100 years really gotten sick because of their toothbrush?

Re:Marketing Gone Wrong (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379634)

Actually, your toothbrush can be one of the easier ways to get sick in the bathroom. Fecal particulate matter gets in the air and can collect on your toothbrush. Surely not a lot, but every now and then...

Re:Marketing Gone Wrong (3, Informative)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379726)

As an old Mythbusters episode demonstrated - fecal coliform bacteria is on EVERYTHING and is just a fact of life. A healthy immune system quash it like any other pathogen and you wouldn't give it a second thought (or a first one, for that matter).

Mythbusters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34379912)

Was going to point this out myself, their control toothbrush (kept out of the bathroom under a bell jar) had just as much fecal coliform bacteria as the other brushes (even the ones kept directly over the toilet for a month).

Also in their double dipped chips episode they found that there is more bacteria already IN the salsa fresh out of the jar than you add by scooping it into your mouth and then spitting it back into the container (much less simply double dipping a chip).

Re:Marketing Gone Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34379746)

Go watch some mythbusters. You can get the same fecal particulate in every room of your house.

Re:Marketing Gone Wrong (2, Insightful)

maxwells_deamon (221474) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379776)

Can it be shown that this level of fecal matter makes you sick?

Please realize that fecal matter is a large component of the soil. Dust from soil gets into the air during wind storms. You take it into your lungs and also collect it in the mucus in your nose.

Large amounts I would expect to be harmful, but trace amounts?

Re:Marketing Gone Wrong (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379840)

I for one won't be fooled by marketing schemes as I am already aware of the immunity-defense building qualities of ingesting your own fecal matter.

Re:Marketing Gone Wrong (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380018)

Actually, your toothbrush can be one of the easier ways to get sick in the bathroom. Fecal particulate matter gets in the air and can collect on your toothbrush. Surely not a lot, but every now and then...

Citation needed.

My guess of the easiest way of getting sick in the bathroom is the shower head. moist, often warm, practically never hot enough to kill bacteria, lot's of surface protected from physical cleaning, getting splashes of dirty water regularly... And it is used to spray water over the eyes, nose, mouth...

Yes, next time you take a shower, just think for a while what the inside of the shower head and handle probably look like... ;-)

On the other hand, it's still probably cleaner than human skin just before taking a shower... ;-)

Re:Marketing Gone Wrong (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380176)

And protecting against that is what your immune system is for. Let it do its job.

Re:Marketing Gone Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34379704)

I place a lot of blame on the marketing people for this.

Sure, and McDonalds is to blame for obesity the world over. Fact: consumers have choice (and power) and have simply chosen to abdicate their responsibility to choose wisely (and also lose their bargaining power in the process): it seems easier at the time and in many cases turns out to be for the worse (e.g., no I can't afford this house, but fuck it - it's way bigger and now I can have 8 TV's just in the toilet! Woohoo!...oh shit, the bank called it in?)

Get a dog. That thing will lead the kid around the park in and out of garden beds and piles of shit and lick it's face 5 times a day, and hey, problem solved.

Re:Marketing Gone Wrong (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379812)

To be fair, did they know this would happen? It's all hindsite 20/20. Just another lesson to be learned from the laws of unintended consequences. Let's learn from it and move on.

Re:Marketing Gone Wrong (1)

robbyjo (315601) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379924)

Triclosan covered toothbrushes? At one time science showed that triclosan reduces plaque. And what causes plaque in the first place? Bacteria! Don't put the blame solely on marketing. Be informed!
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2638181 [nih.gov]

Re:Marketing Gone Wrong (2, Informative)

robbyjo (315601) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379980)

Follow up study on this topic (triclosan in toothpaste) in 2005:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16208383 [nih.gov]

Points still stand.

Re:Marketing Gone Wrong (4, Informative)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379956)

Actually plain soap doesn't do shit. It's an emulsifier, not a panacea. Plain soap simply binds oils and water, the theory being that if you take the oil off your skin you're magically "clean". It does not "kill" "germs" (the non-scientific catchall term which includes viruses which aren't even alive in the first place according to the classical definition of life) any more than other emulsifiers like lecithin or egg yolks do.

And this is News? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34379576)

Today's kids are so wrapped in cotton wool the poor darlings never get dirty.
I blame the TV advertising for this. Many ads go out of their way to suggest that the only way to stay healthy is to use AB stuff at every opportunity.

Last year I told my grandkids how I used to play in the dirt. They were shocked.
They didn't beleive me until I showed them a picture of me covered in mud from head to foot aged two.
Their mothers were horrified.
  "All those germs? How could you?"

Pah.
Then to make them feel rally bad, I told them how we used to dig holes in the ground and make underground camps, have cooks outs and other cool stuff.
All done when I was less than 12.

Ok, we didn't have PlayStations or Xboxes back then. We had fun inventing things to do.
 

God made dirt... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34379584)

and (a little) dirt don't hurt.

Correlation != Causation (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34379608)

Sounds like another possible confirmation of the hygiene hypothesis and the increase of autoimmune diseases and allergies.

I suspect those that use triclosan and BPA would tend not to live with farm animals, eat dirt and be exposed to parasites.

Would be interesting to get some cross referencing to see exposure to these elements is causal or additive to the hygiene hypothesis' supposed imbalances in the immune system which would do these all by itself.

Bisphenol A banned in Canada (3, Informative)

ubergeek65536 (862868) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379680)

That's why Bisphenol A is a registered toxic substance in Canada. It also causes more girls to be born that boys.. but maybe that's a good thing for the /. crowd.

Re:Bisphenol A banned in Canada (2, Informative)

SirThe (1927532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379814)

It doesn't really cause more girls to be born than boys; it causes boys to develop girl's sex organs and has been linked to breast cancer, among other things (it basically acts like estrogen).

Re:Bisphenol A banned in Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34379886)

Bisphenol A is an estrogen mimicking hormone and should be banned in the USA. If you think about it, higher level of estrogen is not goo for you. If you are a male, it can help you become more female. Our female kids are most likely sexually developing earlier because of it in just about everything. For those curious read Slow Death By Rubber Duck and for more I could find you several decent journal articles... but it is easier just to ignore it.

Which is why.... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34379698)

I only shower once every 4 days. I also only eat one large meal per day... Some days I even skip eating! However, I have a perfectly healthy weight for my height (~140-150lbs, 5'8"), and for some reason I hardly ever smell bad. Correlation?

I knew it but Mom wouldn't listen! (2, Funny)

Voulnet (1630793) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379720)

Join me, slashdotters, as I expand my life expectancy in that mud pit.

Studies come and go (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379760)

Is it such a slow news day that a finding in a health study is posted on Slashdot? There are zillions of studies of various quality with lots of different findings on lots of different health-related topics. What makes this one different from every other one?

Stuff like this is the best day-to-day indication of editorial bias in the news. But it's hard to guess the particulars of the bias involved in selecting this story.

Oh really (1)

SirThe (1927532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379792)

Bisphenol A is an estrogen mimicking compound.. that has absolutely nothing to do with being clean! For chrissakes, who came up with this headline.

This explains one thing... (2, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379822)

...indeed that being 'too clean' is disastrous to one's health. Having spent more than 15 years in Africa, I came to the observation that folks over there are allergic to nothing I could tell. Not pollen, nuts, honey, dust...name it!

When I came to America, I found it strange to see that people were allergic to certain smells during summer! Insane.

The trouble is that companies continue to tout these so called hygiene products which in effect, make people's lives miserable. The fact is that bacteria found in the environment are more or less harmless.

Re:This explains one thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34380334)

It could also be natural selection.

In America people with alergys can take medications that midigate the visability if their condition. In impoverished areas where those medications aren't ubiquitiously available it's likley harder for people with alergys to find a mate and pass on their alergy-genes.

George Carlin nailed this one a long time ago (2, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379914)

Fear of Germs. [youtube.com]

Skip ahead to 1:49.

It's a dog's life (2, Insightful)

jbarr (2233) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379970)

We got a puppy a couple years ago, and since then, whenever we go for walks, I always let her drink from puddles, play in the dirt, and sniff and eat pretty much anything (except cat poop--that's just gross.) My thought is that if her body gets used to the dirty things around her, she'll have a stronger constitution. Obviously far from scientific, but after over two years, she's in perfect health. it's really nothing more than how I grew up as a kid. We played in the dirt, drank from streams, and pretty much didn't care about what we got into. Other than the occasional bout of the runs or poison ivy (thankfully, unrelated!) my friends and I grew up pretty healthy.

more logical ignorance by slashdot editors (1)

MichaelKristopeit212 (1946196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380008)

being too clean doesn't make people sick any more than being alive makes people sick.

the data indicates that being "too clean" makes people MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO BECOMING sick.... and in those terms "too clean" is defined only relative to that susceptibility. the article is ignorant rhetoric.

also, being less clean does not guarantee less susceptibility to becoming sick.

all of the proper scientists have long left this internet web site chat room message board. nothing is left but ignorant marketeers pushing their hypocrisy at no cost to anyone who would hear it.

slashdot = stagnated

OTOH (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34380026)

Not using approved hand washing procedures (including soap) will get you fired.
And alcohol based hand sanitizers dry your skin out too much.

Auto-immune (1)

narfman0 (979017) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380080)

Being too clean also brings forth a prevalent and more dangerous issue in recent decades: auto immune disorders, which is more deadly than having an impotent immune system. Also with antibacterial soap brings: anti-bacterial resistant infections, of which many people carry today. In the US, around 2.8% of people have just one of these resistant infections: MRSA. Disclaimer: didn't read the article. Sources: Wiki, Graham P, Lin S, Larson E (2006). "A U.S. population-based survey of Staphylococcus aureus colonization". Ann Intern Med 144 (5): 318–25. PMID 16520472.

This is VERY old news! (0, Offtopic)

Oflife (1636567) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380086)

Why is Slashdot reproducing news that is several years old? The Bisphenol A issue and that related to the immune system have been covered by various media over the last 3 or 4 years.

Clean vs. Unclean (2, Interesting)

tirk (655692) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380222)

I think it's interesting the arguments about whether being too clean makes one unhealthy or not. I realize the article really didn't answer that, but I think in general history tells us the answer pretty clearly. For most of human history we lived in our own filth, didn't bath and had many other unclean things about us. And we've learned that being cleaner has doubled or tripled our lifespans. And cleanliness especially plays a role when someone is not healthy for some reason or another. While I am not certain of this fact at the moment, and would love to research it if given the time, but I believe that during the medival period in Europe people in the cities had a shorter lifespan then people in the country. It wasn't that country folk bathed more often or did much difference in living, but the real difference was that they weren't constantly being contaiminanted by other peoples "dirt". So I think a kid digging in the dirt doesn't really need to rush in and clean off the bacteria. But I think a kid in the mall run his hand along all the places other kids run thier hands, playing in the playgrounds where other kids have played, and don't get me started on those plastic ball pits and what's in them... there, perhaps a dose of cleanliness afterwards is useful. I think overuse of antibiotic cleaners would indeed have several potential problems, but if used in context and looking at where true risk really is, I think they are useful.

if you're going to talk bisphenol A... (2, Informative)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380230)

Then don't forget phthalates, sunscreen and many more products. It makes no damn logical sense to complain about hand soap when you can basically get the same results from sunscreen or plastic (or plastic-lined) water bottles.  This crap is in so many products that hand soap is only the tip of the iceberg.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phthalate
http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/9-surprising-facts-about-sunscreen/
http://www.kk.org/cooltools/archives/001616.php

From the Department of the Bleedin' Obvious (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34380254)

That is all.

(Captcha: tedious)

Natural Alternatives... (1)

mim (535591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34380372)

...Are more effective & not toxic (and less expensive) than the highly marketed, petrochemical brand names. Lavender & Tea Tree herbs can be grown & their tinctures of essential oils made into a diluted synergistic blend that, when applied topically, are antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral. They should not be taken internally, but can be added to lotions, soaps and detergents as a natural preventative. The essential oils may also be purchased online or from a local coop. My personal favourite brand is http://www.auracacia.com/ [auracacia.com] but there are many other local, organic & wildcrafted brands that are also available at many farmer's markets.
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