The Antidote

Counterspin for Health Care and Health News

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Gross, but thought-provoking

Kent Sepkowitz, writing for Slate, asks whether we might not be better off in terms of immunity by living under less sterile conditions. His recommendation to scientists: figure out if there's a level of excrement we can eat that would boost our immune systems without killing us. I imagine susceptibility varies by age, and I do know that we live longer as a population than we used to before sanitation. Other than that, I'm not a microbiologist, and I can't decide whether this idea is completely wacky or not.

Any discussion?

2 Comments:

At 4:03 AM, Blogger pmgcharlier said...

Good idea. The idea that dirt is the enemy has resulted in generations of people with underdeveloped immune systems. We evolve in dirt and filth and our bodies are designed to deal with it. What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger.

 
At 7:56 PM, Blogger MT said...

figure out if there's a level of excrement we can eat that would boost our immune systems without killing us.

Excrement? Uh, no. Not to the exclusion of other filth, at least. All that is not brown that is immunogenic. I've heard most household dust is human skin, which probably flaked off with passengers and being proteinaceous anyway seems bound to host microbes eventually. Regarding analyzable public health data on excrement, I would have hoped that's water under the bridge. We do know that our robust elders weren't passively inoculating themselves against the emergent diseases that we'll be facing--as megalopolis-dwelling, mass-traveling, factory-farm feeding, multi-drug-resistance-era folks.

 

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