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Overly Sanitized Environments Lead to Poor Health?

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the are-you-gonna-finish-that? dept.

352

bignickel writes "A recently-released study examined the health implications of living in an overly hygienic environment. According to the 'hygiene hypothesis,' living in such an environment early in life can lead to problems with allergies and autoimmune diseases. The study compared lab rodents with rats and mice living in the wild. Time to stop Lysol-bombing the house?"

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Farm Workers Without Allergies (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563359)

I'm not a doctor but I couldn't agree with this article more. I grew up picking rock, bailing hay & working with animals. Countless times I'd come home with dust, alfalfa or straw everywhere (eyes, nose, clothes, etc). I worked with a lot of people and every member of the family worked as soon as you were able to lift something. What was odd was that you had entire families and not one of them would have allergies.

Now, I'm sure there are exceptions but I think that it would be an interesting survey to compare people who work in dirty grimy environments with people who work in corporate America. I spent my childhood running through the weeds, pulling wood ticks out of my hair and watching my mom put iodine all over my cuts & scrapes (hurts like a b*tch). Although by some people's standards I grew up in utter squalor, it was a lot of fun.

I have two cousins who moved to Minneapolis and grew up in a house with an air filtration system. The tiniest pollen or cat dander will send them into sneezing fits. Those air filtration systems are more harm than good in my opinion.

To my knowledge, I don't have any allergic reactions or hay fever. Now, this is just my personal experience but when I lived out in the country, I didn't know anyone except my teacher who had hay fever. Once I went to college at age 18, I met tons of people with hay fever. Is this correlation due to the fact that our childhoods were spent in filth or is it simply because people with allergies move away from those areas? I'm not sure but considering that allergies can "develop" later in life, I'm prone to believe that the less you are exposed to tiny particles, the more your body wigs out when your immune system encounters them.

If you're a parent, I would suggest getting your toddler/infant out to the park as often as possible and let them get some fresh air. Yes, it has smog & pollen in it but everyone has to deal with these their entire lives.

There's no analogy to be used here, it's just simply speculation. They've done this study with lab mice, now why don't they do a sampling of populations and ask people whether they work in an office with a controlled air system or outdoors/farm work where they're exposed to plants & animals daily.

The human body is extremely adaptive. Anti-bodies are perfect examples of an immune system being exposed to something and then being able to deal with it later. I speculate that if people aren't exposed to dust, pollen, dander, etc. then their bodies will have a much more difficult time discerning them from actually harmful foreign particles.

Re:Farm Workers Without Allergies (2, Informative)

wwest4 (183559) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563554)

I'm also not a doctor, but I've heard that the human body can also become aware of an allergen after repeated exposure... poison ivy or cat dander, for example. People who were not allergic to these things can apparently develop an allergy to something that didn't elicit a reaction before.

Re:Farm Workers Without Allergies (2, Insightful)

f0rtytw0 (446153) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563749)

This seems to be the case for me at least when it comes to pollen. Never used to have any allergies at all. Now when June rolls around I find myself sneezing and constantly blowing my nose. At least it wasn't as bad this year but it still sucks. It all started when I moved from one apartment to another and that kicked up a lot of dust. This is my third year of it and I really hope it goes away =P.
Now to go the other way when I first got poison ivy it was really really bad. Each time after that was not as bad. Now I'm not overly concerned about it, there might be a small reaction that isn't very itchy. I do think some of it has to do with the environment I live and work in. I went from living out in the woods to living in the city. I also work all day indoors (which really sucks on nice days like today).

Re:Farm Workers Without Allergies (2, Interesting)

Twanfox (185252) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564197)

This applies to latex allergies as well. Some hospital employees will become allergic to latex while being exposed to it repeatedly in a sterile environment.

It's just funny. The GPP indicates that a family that works on the farm does not get allergies to many things like dust and pollen, but discounts the idea that genetics influences allergies in the least. IE, if the parents are not allergic to dust and take up a life of farming, then their children are not likely to exhibit such ailments as well.

Re:Farm Workers Without Allergies (3, Interesting)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563568)

There's no analogy to be used here, it's just simply speculation. They've done this study with lab mice, now why don't they do a sampling of populations and ask people whether they work in an office with a controlled air system or outdoors/farm work where they're exposed to plants & animals daily.

That information, while useful, would probably be less useful than you might think. Even if you discount the typical problems associated with questionnaire-based studies, such a study will won't distinguish between problems caused by sterile environments and problems caused by different allergens that may be associated with air conditioning systems or with urban areas in general.

Re:Farm Workers Without Allergies (3, Interesting)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563580)

Now, I'm sure there are exceptions but I think that it would be an interesting survey to compare people who work in dirty grimy environments with people who work in corporate America.

IIRC, the original study that popularized this idea compared Germans who grew up in cities and on farms and found a lower rate of allergies in the latter.

As for this mouse study -- lab mice and wild mice are extremely different animals, as lab mouse strains (which used to be pet mouse strains) as have been selected for two hundred years to grow in close quarters. It's very hard to distinguish environmental and genetic effects in this case.

Re:Farm Workers Without Allergies (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563618)

While the theory really appeals to me, my life experience indicates otherwise.
My father grew up in a farming family and, like most, he was expected to pitch in and work from an early age. However, he also has severe allergies to grain dust, pollen and a number of other respiratory related things. These just got worse over the years. When he helps out on the farm now, he actually wears an aspestos removal suit with a breather unit. I grew up in a sterile house - excessive vacuuming and cleaning. While I too have allergies, they're not nearly as bad as my father's.
The one aspect I could believe is that my father's allergies got worse when he stopped being exposed to irritants on a regular basis. However, he's always been allergic despite frequent early exposure.

No Clue

Re:Farm Workers Without Allergies (5, Interesting)

hindumagic (232591) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563689)

Like you said, that is your *personal* experience.

Whereas I grew up just as you did, playing outside, lots of different animals, hay, etc. Not a Lysol environment at all. And then around 10 years old, while making tunnels and forts in a big pile of haybales with friends I got hit with the hayfever. Around the same time I developed an allergy to cats. My father is exactly like this and his father is as well (allergic to cat dander and have hayfever).

Oh, and you can be born with allergies. I'm allergic to penicillin - given some as a newborn and developed a rash (apparently a common allergic reaction to it).

I'm sure that there are others that can refute your hypothesis.

But I still believe that it is good to not grow up in a sterile environment. I'm not thinking about allergies, but just about having an immune system that gets some exercise and building up a catalog of antibodies that can respond to similar threats. (in fact, isn't the allergic reaction your immune system's response to that allergen?)

Reverse Causuality (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563691)

If you have allergy problems, why the fuck would you want to grow up on a farm? You'd move to a more hygenic environment as soon as you could get there.

Re:Farm Workers Without Allergies (4, Insightful)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563712)

Doesn't quite work as reliably as you think. My wife has bad allergies to cat dander, but grew up surrounded by pets and helped work her mother's pet store.

Re:Farm Workers Without Allergies (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564245)

Yeah, I'm much the same. Grew up around cats and dogs, and yet I have developed allergies (along with asthma) to them now that have only gotten worse as I've gotten older. Interestingly, this started around puberty, which seems to be a common theme...

Predisposition (4, Interesting)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563895)

It could also be that those with allergies tend to move away from the farms. I wouldn't last a week on a farm without some Zyrtec.

My sister and I grew up in the same environment. We lived in air conditioning, but spent most of our childhood playing outdoors in suburbs of Minneapolis. I have severe pollen-based allergies. If I do not have air conditioning or medication, I can wake up with my eyes glued shut from secretions, my throat can hurt like the worst strep throat you ever had, and my eyes and ears itch constantly. I am also mildly allergic to pretty much every food. My sister has no allergies of any kind.

My family was on the farm two generations ago, and one generation ago they still worked on the farm during the summer. Some of them have allergies, some don't.

My daughter's skin has reacted to certain foods since she was a baby.

So, I think there are probably genetic predispositions to allergies. However, I think there may be a role for environment in those who are less severely predisposed to allergies than the members of my family.

Re:Farm Workers Without Allergies (5, Informative)

Ryanwoodings (60314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563948)

The May (2006) issue of National Geographic has an article titled "The Misery of Allergies", which lends a lot of credibility to your story. The article says scientists aren't sure what causes allergies, but there is evidence that shows that growing up in "dirtier" environments leads to fewer allergies.

http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0605/featur e4/index.html [nationalgeographic.com]

Re:Farm Workers Without Allergies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15564185)

Personally, I believe that alergies can be psychosomatic. I say this because I had many psychosomatic problems and from observing the patterns, alergies appear to be one of them. Curing psychosomatic problems is of course possible through psychological means, and I don't get alergies anymore.

You should see my bathroom (5, Funny)

Siberwulf (921893) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563387)

If you did, you'd see why I haven't been sick in 15 years.

Re:You should see my bathroom (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563887)

I can top it. I used to live in a fraternity house. We had germs there that had learned to use tools.

-Eric

Re:You should see my bathroom (4, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564056)

I can top it. I used to live in a fraternity house. We had germs there that had learned to use tools.

You can't count the pledges, that's not fair! ;-)

George Carlin (5, Funny)

BHearsum (325814) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563389)

"In my neighborhood no one ever got polio. No one, ever. You know why? 'Cause we swam in the East River. We swam in raw sewage! It strengthened our immune systems. The polio never had a prayer; we were tempered in raw shit!"

Re:George Carlin (1)

System.exit(true) (981356) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563470)

I believe that was the Hudson River...but what do I know.

Re:George Carlin (1)

DarkHelmet (120004) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563717)

"Listen, if you kill all the germs around you and live a completely sterile life, then when germs do come along, you're not gonna be prepared.

And nevermind ordinary germs, what are you gonna do when some supervirus comes along that turns your vital organs into liquid shit?

I'll tell you what you're gonna do. You're gonna get sick, you're gonna die, and you're gonna deserve it cause you're fucking weak and you've got fucking weak immune system."

This is why I never was my hands (0)

lthown (737539) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563394)

This is why I never was my hands...

Hey, want an apple?

Re:This is why I never was my hands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563482)

Chocolate covered pretzel?

Reminder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563569)

Mall Rats wasn't funny!

Your apple (1)

LoonyMike (917095) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563616)

was all belong to us!

At last! (5, Funny)

icebrain (944107) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563439)

A good reason to give my fiancee for NOT cleaning my house every weekend... I'll tell her it's good for you!

The future (3, Interesting)

Red Moose (31712) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563445)

A totally sanitised environment is no problem to be raised in as long you are going to continue living in it forever. Unfortunately, your OCD parents who won't let you play in a mucky garden as a kid won't be your flatmates when you are finding unwashed underclothes can stale booze in college and the real world.

It will be no problem at all if there are moon colonies. But, as we all know there aren't (although some conspiracy theorists know there are).

Re:The future (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563566)

No moon colonies, just an Alpha Site.

Re:The future (3, Funny)

quantum bit (225091) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564268)

Yeah, but that's on a terraformed planet with loads of dirt and germs and trees that look just like the woods around Vancouver.

Re:The future (4, Interesting)

x2A (858210) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563642)

"A totally sanitised environment is no problem to be raised in as long you are going to continue living in it forever"

Untrue. There are more problems with an untrained immune system than just the fact that it won't strengthen. At the low end of the scale are allergies, where you develop an immunoresponse to things that aren't actually dangerous, and have to start avoiding certain foods that you'd otherwise be able to eat. At the other end of the scale are autoimmune problems; where the immune system starts to attack you itself. I recall a case of a guy who's immune system was attacking his own intestines. They countered this by (yeah, I know) giving him *worms*, so that his immune system would turn against them instead, and, being occupied, allow his intestines to heal.

You immune system also fights many other things other than just outside invaders, such as cancer, which is a lot more common than you might think, but most of the time the immune system can take care of it and so it's not a problem.

So no, proper immuno development is essential, even if you can live in a sterilised environment all your life.

Re:The future (1)

Moxon (139555) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564008)

For more info about immune systems attacking intestines, check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflammatory_bowel_di sease [wikipedia.org] .

Unfortunately, the worm treatment isn't available where I live. I guess I'll have to bug my doctor about it again the next time I see him..

Re:The future (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564305)

They countered this by (yeah, I know) giving him *worms*...

I think I speak for everyone here when I say BLEEEEUUhhhh! Ugh! Ew.

You could never toke up again, total freakout session. Eugh... *shudder*

Polio / Middle-class diseases (4, Interesting)

eyeball (17206) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563459)

My mother was stricken with Polio in the early 50's, just a few years before the vaccine was approved.

Although I've never seen any literature that support this, she says Polio was known as a Middle-class disease, since the middle-class were more likely to have cleaner houses (thus not exposing babies to as many germs and developing healthy immune systems). The fact that her mother was a clean-freak before and after my mother was born may be coincidental to her contracting Polio, but I like to think they're related.

Re:Polio / Middle-class diseases (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563700)

"she says Polio was known as a Middle-class disease, since the middle-class were more likely to have cleaner houses"

Could it have been thought that because the poor folk who were susceptable to polio had already died of other infections/diseases?

Re:Polio / Middle-class diseases (4, Interesting)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563929)

I took a class on the history of American medicine, and IIRC, it was pretty well established that polio was an upper-class disease.

If you are exposed as a child, you are able to fight it off and are pretty much innoculated to it for the rest of your life. Poor people didn't have the cleanest conditions a century ago, and even middle class parents allowed their kids to mingle with the masses, in places like public swimming pools. Polio was pretty much endemic in the population, and it was only the rich kids, who weren't allowed to play with dirty urchins, who contracted the virus later in life and were unable to fight it off.

Re:Polio / Middle-class diseases (5, Informative)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564068)

A lot of people like to think things are related. That's why we have scientists and statistics. In this particular case, scientists sampling water supplies of the middle/upper classes actually discovered for a fact that polio was less prevalent in the cleaner water supplies of the middle/upper class, and that reduced exposure in early infanthood or through the mother's immune system led to more crippling cases (the greater severity of polio infection after infanthood was also well researched and understood).

Here are a couple of resources:
http://www.amphilsoc.org/library/mole/n/nycpolio.x ml [amphilsoc.org]
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/rxforsurvival/series/disea ses/polio.html [pbs.org]

So now you don't just have to like to think they were related, you can just say the link was scientifically proven.

Easy remedy - Mucophagy. (3, Interesting)

Ransak (548582) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563481)

Want to prevent all those disinfectants from weakening your immune system?


There's an easy way! [damninteresting.com]

Re:Easy remedy - Mucophagy. (1)

Matt Edd (884107) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563863)

I propose a clinical study where each test subject is given real boogers or placebo boogers for a period of months

Real would have to mean other peoples... and shouldn't it be fresh? Wonder how that would work...

Re:Easy remedy - Mucophagy. (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564020)

I think my skummy keyboard at work should be enough.

No shit Sherlock (5, Informative)

ds_job (896062) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563508)

All I had to do was google for "Eat a peck of dirt" and the sixth on the list is a New Scientist [newscientist.com] page from 1998
I was very interested in your article on the possible dangers of excessive hygiene ("Let them eat dirt", 18 July, p 26). As a child I remember being told by my mother that "you have to eat a peck of dirt before you die", a peck being two gallons. Is this another case of scientists catching up with what has been common knowledge for generations?

If you want to fork out for the premium content you can get the full text here. [newscientist.com]
I'm presuming that in eight years time some other publication will 'discover' this again and maybe someone will link to me instead of Susan Taylor...

Unfortunately (3, Insightful)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564028)

Evidence and rational thought have very little impact on people who think things like

"the only good germ is a dead germ"

"bright lights deter crime"

"second hand smoke is dangerous"

"criminals prefer machine guns"

in the end, people don't like scary and/or icky things and demand that "something" be done about them, even if "something" makes the problem worse instead of better.

Re: hard to find good dirt these days (1)

poopie (35416) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564105)

Regarding eating a peck of dirt...

I'll wager that most of us live somewhere that is mostly urban and that most of the dirt we encounter in our daily lives is not at all like the kind of rich organic earth that surround farms.

Urban dirt is made up of unburnt hydrocarbons, dog poo, cigarette butts, sputum, and bird droppings and it doesn't contain much in the way of nutrients needed to grow plants in.

While it might help your immune system to eat urban dirt, I can't say I'm surprised that fewer parents in urbanized areas are telling their kids to go out an eat a peck of dirt.

My Own Similar Theory... (3, Interesting)

jizziknight (976750) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563524)

This is based mostly on BS, but interesting (at least to me) nonetheless...

When my mom was pregnant with me, at some point she had a bad case of poison ivy. I rarely ever get poison ivy, and if I do, it's only for a couple days, and is hardly noticable. My older sister on the other hand, is quite allergic to poison ivy, and generally needs medication to control it if she gets it. I've also heard of similar stories, but can't be arsed right now to remember them. Now, we all know that a baby's immune system is related to how good the mother's immune system is. I postulate that if a pregnant woman becomes infected with any sort of non-fatal/non-life-threating disease, bacteria, virus, the baby will, as a result, be more resistant to it, if not totally immune.

So, instead of isolating pregnant women from everything, I say we start giving them controlled infections of common sicknesses, so that their immune systems produce the atibodies, and pass them on to the baby.

Of course, I could just be completely insane....

Re:My Own Similar Theory... (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563679)

So if your mom gets bitten by a radioactive spider, does that make you Spider-Man? I think you're reading too much into this. Plenty of sibling react very differently to allergens and irritants like Poison Ivy despite their mom's exposure to such things.

Re:My Own Similar Theory... (4, Funny)

jizziknight (976750) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563792)

No, that would make her Spider-Woman, and my embryo would split into about a thousand embryos, and she would lay us in sack in the corner until we hatched. Then I would be one of a thousand Spider-Men. Let's see Doc Oc or the Green Goblin fight off THAT.

Chickpox dangerous to gestating babies (1)

Erioll (229536) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563680)

Your theory may hold some merit in some cases, but is 100% wrong in others. Just take a look at the Wikipedia entry for Chickenpox [wikipedia.org] to see how dangerous that disease is if the Mother gets it while she's pregnant: basically the baby can be completely screwed.

Basically, I wouldn't recommend ANY mother to PURSUE disease while pregnant. It's probably not the end of the world in the vast majority of cases (there are considerable barriers to disease for the unborn child naturally through the placenta, etc), but do NOT think that it's always beneficial, or even some of the time without a lot better evidence.

Re:Chickpox dangerous to gestating babies (1)

jizziknight (976750) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563751)

Clearly I have no basis, other than the fact that things do get passed between the mother's and baby's blood via the placenta. And obviously you wouldn't want to infect the mother with anything that would be harmful to the child, hence the non-fatal/non-life-threatening part. I just think someone (obviously not me) should do some serious research on this. But, like I said, it could be complete BS.

Re:Chickpox dangerous to gestating babies (1)

Erioll (229536) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563865)

This is the reason though why I wanted to point out chickenpox so clearly: even for adults, MOST times Chickenpox IS non-life-threatening, AND non-severe. Now it's MUCH more common to be severe in adults, but still, it's generally seen as "benign," and thus I didn't want any possibility of misconception with it: it's damned dangerous for the child if their mother gets it while pregnant.

Hence even for seemingly-benign things, do NOT try and "test the waters" with people that are pregnant. A BAD idea. ALWAYS.

Re:Chickpox dangerous to gestating babies (1)

jizziknight (976750) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563973)

I'm not suggesting purposely infecting pregnant women during the research. That would come after it's proven safe and useful. You would just have them report what sicknesses they naturally became infected with during the pregnancy and then attempt to discover what effects it had on the child. Obviously, you'd need a large sample, and there'd be no control group, so naturally, you'd do a lot of the testing on rats. Just as they've done in TFA.

And last I heard, the chance of Chickenpox being severe and/or life threatening increases with a person's age.

Also, what do you think flu vaccines are? Hell, even the Chickenpox vaccine? They're controlled infections, yes?

Re:My Own Similar Theory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563728)

Is it just me, or has Slashdot gotten a lot stupider ever since the low-IDs began fleeing and were replaced by high-IDs like the fount of wisdom above?

Re:My Own Similar Theory... (1)

jizziknight (976750) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564177)

There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I prefer to straddle it. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Re:My Own Similar Theory... (5, Funny)

Chicken04GTO (957041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564031)

Im nearly immune to the posion ivy/oaks families too. I can see it on my skin if ive been exposed, but they dont itch or bother me. Ill ask my mom if she was ever exposed to poison Ivy while preggers.

if your theory is correct, then I wish I could go back in time and surround my mom with stupid people, because I am deathly allergic to them now.

Re:My Own Similar Theory... (1)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564157)

I thought it was a common thing, but I am completely immune to all poison ivy/oak/whatever. I have literally sat in the stuff before and didn't get so much as a discoloration.

Re:My Own Similar Theory... (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564205)

So, instead of isolating pregnant women from everything, I say we start giving them controlled infections of common sicknesses, so that their immune systems produce the atibodies, and pass them on to the baby.

Pretty soon there will be shots called immunizations for common illnesses.

Thats only theory at this time though.

agree 100% (3, Insightful)

Kalinago (978201) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563527)

I've always had this point of view all my life. I'm latin american so it's very easy to contrast fellows from extreme opposite social backgrounds in any main avenue; from what Ive seen, people that grow up in shanty towns, with no vitamins, poor diets and other problems have by average stronger, agile and toughier body types than more fortunate individuals.

Kind of odd, but its not uncommon to read news about a young high profile kid die from an asthma fit. On the other side another one survives from four shots and a head crash in a hold up in some poor neighborhood.

I guess this is called survival of the fittest.

Re:agree 100% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563735)

I think you may be discounting a significant bias in what's reported. If some "high profile" kid dies from anything, it makes news. It takes four gunshots and a head trauma before the media notices some kid from a poor neighbourhood. Though people who grow up with tough lives tend to be "tougher", that's as much attitude and being accustomed to it. If you grow up in a soft life, you'll complain a lot earlier than someone who is used to suffering physical discomfort on a daily basis. However, despite being "tougher", statistics show that those same people live much shorter lives due to health problems, disease, etc. Lifespan is actually an extremely good indicator of average levels of wealth - by country, region, ethnicity, etc.

No Clue

Re:agree 100% (1, Flamebait)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563962)

Kind of odd, but its not uncommon to read news about a young high profile kid die from an asthma fit.
No shit, Sherlock. How many high-profile "shanty town man was killed by asthma fit" cases have you read about in the New York Timer or seen on FOXnews? Huh?

None?

Thought so. d:

Re:agree 100% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15564017)

Or it could be that in the shanty towns, all the weaker people that would have allergies, get sick, etc. have died from inadequate medical care.

Clean room (4, Interesting)

tsa (15680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563559)

I often work inside a clean room, and once I saw a colleague of mine have a severe hay fever attack in there. Tears streamed from his eyes etc. He had to sit down for a while to recover. He told me it's the change of environment (in this case from dirty to clean air) that did it for him. Very strange.

Thats why little kids eat dirt. (3, Funny)

Cobratek (14456) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563601)

Ever notice little kids who eat dirt are healthier looking and tend to be not as scrawny as the kids with clean-freaks for parents. Ever see a toddler allowed to play outside that didnt eat dirt ? They need the bacteria for their digestive system.

Re:Thats why little kids eat dirt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15564283)

Ever notice little kids who eat dirt are healthier looking and tend to be not as scrawny as the kids with clean-freaks for parents. Ever see a toddler allowed to play outside that didnt eat dirt ? They need the bacteria for their digestive system.

Apparently I ate [my own] shit when I was very young. What affect do you think that has?

fluoridate (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563602)

Do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water, why, there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk, ice cream? Ice cream, Mandrake? Children's ice cream!...You know when fluoridation began?...1946. 1946, Mandrake. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual, and certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard-core Commie works.

Re:fluoridate (1, Interesting)

x2A (858210) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563787)

Floride replaces iodine in the thyroid, upsetting the metabolism, causing weight gain and lethargy.

Re:fluoridate (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564194)

Care to site a source?

We just had a debate here if the water company should stop adding to the flouride. There was no mention of that for the people that wanted to get rid of it. All they could come up with was 'it might have a very small chance of causing some easily defeated form of cancer.'

Re:fluoridate (1)

derniers (792431) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564297)

"Floride replaces iodine in the thyroid, upsetting the metabolism, causing weight gain and lethargy." hahahahahahaha.... that is really funny there is no evidence for this whatsoever, your teeth will turn as black as night long before fluoride gets to your thyroid

Dr. Strangelove (1)

Nintendork (411169) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564112)

Nice quote. I just watched that movie for the first time last night. :)

DUH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563617)

It is pretty obvious that those overly clean people are the ones getting sick because their immune systems suck.

I feel bad for the kids who have parents that force antibacterial everything upon them. What a waste of money and disservice they are doing to their children.

Article in Mays NatGeo about this (2, Interesting)

Ponga (934481) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563637)

http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0605/featur e4/index.html [nationalgeographic.com]

The article is about allergies in specific, but is very relavant. A few researchers are claiming that because our environments are so sterile as children these days, more adults have allergies (and illness) as a result of not being exposed to certain elements (good or bad organisms, etc) as a child. Compelling read, I highly recommend it.

-Ponga

Re:Article in Mays NatGeo about this (2, Insightful)

Incadenza (560402) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564253)

The article is about allergies in specific, but is very relavant. A few researchers are claiming that because our environments are so sterile as children these days, more adults have allergies (and illness) as a result of not being exposed to certain elements (good or bad organisms, etc) as a child. Compelling read, I highly recommend it.

There is a difficulty with proving the theory that cleaner houses in your youth make you more suspectible to develop allergies later in your life. Fact is that there is a big genetic factor in allergies, so the reverse theory is just as likely to be true: people who develop allergies have a large likelyhood of having allergic parents who where very keen on keeping the house clean.

Most of the studies that try to find a correlation between growing up in a hygienic environment and developing allergies do just that: finding a correlation. They do not find any evidence for either the first or the second theory, because the research was not set up to look for it. For that you will have to do studies with growing up children whose genetic compound is known, i.e. test the parents before you test the kids.

Another problem is that the correlation between our cleaner environment (in general) and the amount of allergies (in the population) doesn't prove anything either. Lots of sicknesses are on the rise, for instance here in the Netherlands the amount of physical therapy treatments has doubled in ten years. Yet nobody in their right mind will make a connection between the need for these treatments and the cleanliness of our houses.
Secondly, I am not so sure that our hygienic conditions are better now than 20 years ago. I know for sure my parents house was cleaner than mine is, and the same goes for most of my friends. And lots, lots of other things in our environment have changed over that last 20 years: hardly any insecticide residue on our vegetables anymore, no more CFC's in spray cans, more and more cars, more and more overweight people, no more Iodide in the bread... and endless list of correlations can be made, and a lot of these could in theory affect our natural defense system and our suspectibility to allergies.

Vaccine (1, Insightful)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563644)

The wild rodents also showed as much as four times higher levels of immunoglobulins related to allergy and autoimmune disease, but didn't get sick.

Isn't this what we call "Vaccine"? The entire study is somewhat misleading. If I wanted to live allergy free, I rather wear a mask or something, not roll around dirt all day in hopes of my immune system picking up where it left off 4000 years ago before the invention of soap.

Re:Vaccine (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563818)

You don't have to roll around in dirt, you just have to not go all-out-war on cleaning things. Girms will grow and spread on their own, and reach you in normal moderate amounts.

Re:Vaccine (1)

Goeland86 (741690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563825)

Then I feel sorry for you. If you intend to wear a mask all your life to stay healthy, then your immune system becomes useless, and, should you mask fall off accidentall *gasp*, you'll be so affected by the first thing that comes by you could die from it.
Sorry, but the human body is adaptive, we're supposed to expose our bodies to all sorts of threats that are non-damaging. Sort of like vaccines, but it's a passive way of doing it. Vaccines only work for bacteria and virii anyway.
And exposing yourself to particles and whatnot does NOT mean being a gross hippie. Sure you can live that way if you wish, but that's not the point. You need to expose yourself as a kid to the world around you, so your body knows what's out there and how to deal with what might come its way.
So you go live in a hospital room if you like, I prefer the fresh air. Always have, I grew up in farm country, between a horse barn and corn fields, and I'm not allergic to anything. So guess what: you can rant all you want about not wanting to live in dirt, but it's not about being dirty or living in shit, it's about being around it so you get immune to what's in it.

This counts as "insightful"? (1)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563989)

Pitiful.

No, it's not called a vaccine. It's called training your immune system to distinguish between real pathogens and self.

Here's a hint:


  1.  
  2. Asthma is an immune disorder. Asthma attacks are triggered by the body over-reacting to outside stimuli.

  3.  
  4. People widely claim that asthma is caused by pollution and point to the high incidence of asthma in the USA as proof.

  5.  
  6. Yet, strangely, children in even more highly polluted countries - like Mexico - do not get asthma as often as American children.


What's the difference you ask? Well, which country insists on trying to exterminate every germ - harmless or beneficial - that crosses the border?

Not the mold in your refrigerator (3, Interesting)

ribuck (943217) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563701)

As I understand it, the immune-strengthening effect doesn't come from exposure to high concentrations of pathogens, but from ongoing low-level exposure: playing in the sandpit, swimming in the river, that kind of thing.

While we're all sharing anecdotes... (3, Interesting)

Zephyros (966835) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563761)

...I have a personal counterpoint to some of them. I grew up doing a lot of the typical outside kid things, but still ended up with some pretty bad allergies to grass and other pollens. That doesn't mean I don't agree with the article - I think it's fairly intuitive that a too-clean environment results in a weaker immune system. Just saying that the reverse isn't guaranteed.

Uhh.. what? (1, Funny)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563765)

Time to stop Lysol-bombing the house?
WTF is Lysol? And WTF is a house?

Re:Uhh.. what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15564236)

WTF is Lysol?

Its the stuff your mom sprays on you to get rid of the smell because you refuse to shower.

And WTF is a house?

A house comprises of the basement in which you live, and the floors above it in which your mother lives. She owns it all though including the basement.

Re:Uhh.. what? (0, Troll)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564323)

in soviet russia, what the fucked is you

It's been thought for years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563781)

That some allergies are caused by the body's anti-parasite system misbehaving to a lack of parasites in the environment, and then overreacting to whatever irritants it happens to come across first.

In one pretty convincing case study, health workers travelled to some remote South Pacific island (sorry, I don't recall any details) and taught the natives the importance of fully cooking the fish and wildlife they caught, etc. Their rate of allergies was essesntially zero before the health workers arrived. After the sanitary training, the islanders' quality of life improved pretty dramatically...

and within a few years they started to have western allergy rates, including allergies to seafood.

Read that again: Islanders whose staple food for centuries was fish started developing allergies to seafood (among other things) after the parasites were removed from their environment.

Now, this isn't proof of causation: who knows, those western workers could have brought over a virus that prompts allergic reactions (not that any such virus has ever even been theorized), but it is highly suggestive.

Oblig. Carlin (4, Funny)

milkman_matt (593465) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563909)

Reminds me of the Carlin bit:

"The Hudson River was loaded with raw sewage. That's right, we swam in raw sewage. You know, to cool off. And back then the big fear was polio. Thousands of kids every year were dying of polio. But you know what, in my neighborhood, nobody ever got polio. No one. Ever. You know why? BECAUSE WE SWAM IN RAW SEWAGE. It strengthened our immune system. The polio never had a chance. We were tempered in raw shit.

What are you going to do when some super virus comes along that turns your vital organs into liquid shit? I'll tell you what you're gonna do. You're gonna get sick and you're gonna die and you're gonna deserve it because you're fuckin' weak and you have a fuckin' weak immune system."

Re:Oblig. Carlin (1)

milkman_matt (593465) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563924)

D'oh! Shoulda read ahead (and known) someone would beat me to the punch on that one, sorry 'bout that.

Hookworm infections preventing allergy (1)

thue (121682) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563966)

Deliberately infecting one self with hookworms has been shown to prevent allergy and auto-immume reactions.

See fx http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3287733.stm [bbc.co.uk]

And a study to back it up. (1)

Churla (936633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564032)

There is a study at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/464830 [medscape.com] on the topic of having pets about babies and if it affects them. In this study it was found that having a couple pets about a baby helped decrease the chance of the child being allergic to that pet later in life.

More to back up the "That which does not kill me only makes me stronger" theory.

Re:And a study to back it up. (1)

It's all Krista's Fa (776911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564263)

I grew up around long-hair dogs. I'm allergic to dogs. Not that it particularly bothers me, but all the same, stereotypes have all kinds of exceptions.

5 second rule (2, Funny)

Glacial Wanderer (962045) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564053)

To think that I've had the 5 second rule backwards all these years... Note to self: let food sit on the floor for more than 5 seconds before picking it up.

wonder if an analogy can be drawn with macs... (2, Interesting)

aapold (753705) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564055)

Since their users haven't had to develop antivirus instincts, are they more susceptable to a catastrophic plague in the future?

Yes. (2, Insightful)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564077)

And you're not the first one to notice that. There's a significant concern that because Mac users aren't in the habit of virus paranoia that they are setting themselves up for a very, very big fall.

I disagree (3, Interesting)

guinsu (198732) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564081)

I cna't say I agree with this article. I grew up in a mid atlantic state in the 80s. Our house had no a/c, so I was exposed to dust and pollen from the outdoors year round, plus I was outside playing a lot. Mom was a pretty busy person, so things like dusting and vacuuming weren't as regular as they were in other people's houses. I've been stuffed up my whole life and this past year I was tested for allergies, it turns out I am allergic to dust, mold, and various tree pollens. Basically 3 things I have been exposed to my entire life.

War of the worlds (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564144)

Sounds like 'War of the Worlds' had one thing to teach us in this regards.

Too much of a good thing (2, Interesting)

ggKimmieGal (982958) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564165)

Too much of a good thing will always be a bad thing. Just like how a little bit of dark chocolate is good for the heart, a lot is hardly good for the gut. You can't have it go both ways though. Personally, I'd rather Lysol bomb the house than share it with disease carrying bacteria.

I used to always spend all of my time outside, but then I grew up, and now I find myself in a cubicle all of the time. Apparently playing outside from the time I was 2 till probably late middle school years did nothing to prevent allgeries that I have now. I would say I have a predisposition toward them. I have relatives who have the same types of allergies and are sick at the same times as I am. Chances are, like everything else, allergies are a combination of genetics and environment.

What is overly hygienic? Where is the story? (1, Interesting)

moracity (925736) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564199)

The entire premise is flawed because there is no such thing as overly hygienic. Sure, if you grow up in a sealed bubble, you will likely lack antibodies for certain things. However, you will have antibodies passed onto you from your mother.

We already know that every living thing develops certain immunities/resistance in specific environments. People in certain countries develop resistance to many indigenous parasites, while vistors become seriously ill.

If I do get sick, at least I'll live. More people die in developing countries from things we can easily remedy than the other way around.

This article is just more anti-western rhetoric suggesting that the west would be better off if we were dirtier and that we should apologize for being better off than someone else. We've already gone through our development and I'm thankful to have benefitted from it.

Geeks knew this for ages (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564207)

Ever been to a geek's home? Or seen his workspace?

WE knew this all along! That's why we stay healthy during times when about half the company is sick. Like, say, during a football world championship.

Apple and Orange Rats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15564214)

While the hypothesis may be reasonable I think the lab experiment is totally flawed. They compared sewer rats to lab rats. Those are two different breeds as far as I'm concerned. Lab rats (bread, maybe several generations of breeding, in a lab) compared to actual sewer rats (real ones!). Put a lab rat in a sewer and it will be dead in an hour, not from disease but from being ripped apart by other rats. What I'm saying here is that lab rats probably lack many things that sewer rats possess, immune system development being just one of them. This is far from a "controlled" experiment.

My suggestion, get baby sewer rats, preferably before they were born, raise those in a sterile lab environment
Also, put lab rats safely in a cage in the sewer. Actually if they don't smell like their mother they may be adopted by a real pack, good luck tracking them. Again, their inferior breeding will probably make them relative retards, or ratards I suppose, so maybe inside the safety cage is still the best idea.

Lastly the idea recreating a sewer is ridiculous, it shows how impractical and wa$teful academics can be. They won't recreate it exactly but a cage in a real sewer will.

Greeaaatttttt! (1)

Stewiesdog (983624) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564218)

Next some yahoo is going to use this to support leaving your kid in day care with the rest of the "I need more crap" casualties in American society.

That which doesn't kill you makes your stronger (1)

vinn01 (178295) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564227)


On other words...

guess i won't have to kill them myself (0)

the0ther (720331) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564258)

superrockinawesomefuntimes. i can't stand clean-freaks and OCD germaphobes. guess i won't have to stock up on extra clips and ammo as god's cruel sense of humor will give these retards what they deserve.

Give your immune system something to attack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15564265)

Stuff like this [guardian.co.uk] makes me think hh is a valid hypothesis.

Reminds me of a recent study (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564285)

I can't find the link right now but I read a summary of a study just a few weeks back around the use of hand sanitizers, soap, etc. They placed samples of a common stomach virus on the hands of test subjects then had them wash with either a hand sanitizer, soap, or just plain tap water. The hand santizier actually proved worst and plain tap water was best. The sanitizer got rid of only about 1/2 of the virus but the plain tap water got rid of something like 90%.

Day Cares (2, Insightful)

garver (30881) | more than 8 years ago | (#15564288)

My wife is 9 months pregnant, due to pop any day now. This is our first, so we've been shopping for day care centers. It seems all they want to tell us about is how everything is desanitized constantly. Shoes are not worn into the rooms. Hands are washed immediately after entering the room. Surfaces are sprayed down every few minutes. Each toy is desanitized immediately after a kid puts it down.

I came out of the first tour and said to my wife, "it was great and the only concern I have is that it's too damn clean. My boy's going to need some dirt and filth." Not only are they hampering the kids' natural defenses, but they're also evolving the next uber-germ.

I figured that out 30 years ago. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15564307)

I knew this when I was seven years old.

I had been diagnosed at five with allergies and was getting the weekly shots. Ideally, it was supposed to slow down to once every two weeks, then once every three... but then I made the inductive leap that "excessive cleanliness" was the problem; if one was too clean, I reasoned, the immune system would get twitchy and trigger-happy for lack of genuine targets.

So I avoided baths and fought excessive face-washing etc. Of course, my real motivation was the same as any other young boy... but interestingly, I was able to quit the allergy shots cold turkey well before it was scheduled to run out, and to this day I have no discernible allergy issues.

I'm glad that the medical research establishment has finally caught up ;)
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