News Stories

It's Dangerous to be Too Clean (Part II)

We may be dirty, but exposure to common antibacterial chemicals and preservatives found in soap, toothpaste, mouthwash and other personal-care products may make children more likely to have food and environmental allergies.

Researcher Jennifer Savage says, "We saw a link between level of exposure, measured by the amount of antimicrobial agents in the urine, and allergy risk, indicated by circulating antibodies to specific allergens."

The antibacterials and preservatives THEMSELVES do not necessarily cause the allergies, but instead may play a role in the development of the immune system.

The investigators say their findings are also consistent with the so-called hygiene hypothesis, which is one possible explanation behind the growing rates of food and environmental allergies in the developed world. The hypothesis suggests that early childhood exposure to common pathogens is essential in building healthy immune responses, and that lack of such exposure can lead to an overactive immune system that misfires against harmless substances such as food proteins, pollen or pet dander.

Stay healthy (now at $2 off!), be happy: Play in the dirt!



As a kid I was always digging and playing with dirt, especially when I visited my grandparents as they lived in the country. Climbing a tree, digging a hole with my hands and finding some worms, then grabbing an apple and eating it (without washing my hands) was nothing special in my daily routine.

My playmate on the other hand was always tended to by his parents and cleaned every few seconds (well... at least that's how it seemed to me at that age). He couldn't play with dirt, or anything that would get him dirty and his hands had to be religiously washed after touching absolutely anything. He was living in a "bubble" in effect. Even at that age I noticed that in spite (or rather BECAUSE) of the effort his parents put into keeping any bacteria off him, he got sick on a regular basis.

I noticed that scenario repeating many times throughout my childhood. Later in life, as I matured, I developed super hygienic habits. Strangely enough odd allergies were soon to follow.

...And many of us survived endless spit baths from our moms too. Maybe that's why I have such a glowing complexion now...:-)

I live in the developing world. I'm aways amazed at how scared Americans are when they come here regarding food and water. And for good reason: they really do have weaker immune systems, and get bacterial problems the first week they are here that locals do not. This is not necessarily bad. As long as the illness is not too severe, catching a stomach bug is a chance to build a better immune system - as long as you let the body fight it off itself.

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