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Canada Medicine Idle Science

Look At Sick People To Give Your Immune System a Boost 271

Scientists at the University of British Columbia have found that looking at someone who appears sick boosts your immune system. Subjects had blood taken before and after watching a 10-minute slide show that contained disturbing images including people who appeared sick. Results of the blood tests showed people who had seen the sick people had a stronger immune system. From the article: "In the study, young adults were asked to watch a 10-minute slide show containing a series of unpleasant photographs. Some pictures included people who looked obviously ill in some way. The subjects' blood samples were then tested for levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a substance produced by the immune system that indicates your immune system is ramping up to more aggressively fight infection. As a control, pictures of people brandishing guns were also used on some participants—and they barely resulted in a significant increase in IL-6 production, signifying that IL-6 production is not simply a reaction to stress."


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Look At Sick People To Give Your Immune System a Boost

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  • Stress? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @12:40PM (#31749804)
    If they wanted to control for stress, showing pictures of guns in not going to do it. The average person does not get stressed when they see a picture of a gun. For an accurate control of stress, they would need to have someone burst in with a prop gun. THAT will cause stress. In any case, is it really a surprise that the body will boost its immunity when it detects a possible disease threat? I think we have a word that already accounts for that: evolution.
  • by jjeffries ( 17675 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @12:56PM (#31750032)
    My immune system is currently plenty strong and I never get sick; if I look at sick people and boost it even further, will I get an autoimmune disease?
  • The control would have covered that, and it could indeed have accounted for the "barely significant" raise in levels in the controls.
  • by clone53421 ( 1310749 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:43PM (#31750840) Journal

    You said its sole purpose is “to maim and or kill people”. This is incorrect.

    A weapon worn for self-defense has two purposes.

    Its primary purpose is to show the threat of maiming or killing the would-be assailant. Its secondary purpose is to maim and/or kill an attacker who was not deterred by its primary purpose.

    However, the “sole” purpose (nor the primary purpose even) is NOT to maim and/or kill.

    Besides all of which, you say “maim and or kill” as if maiming and/or killing an attacker in self-defense is wrong.

  • Re:Makes good sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:56PM (#31751124)
    Look, I believe in evolution, but it "explains" almost anything you can imagine, such as why humans have wings (to evade predators, of course). (My remark is by no means [] a new insight). So we need to be careful about rationalizing things in retrospect.
  • by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @02:49PM (#31751966)

    My first thought was that pictures of people brandishing guns are so ubiquitous -- a large portion of the entertainment industry is devoted to exactly that -- that they're not necessarily a source of actual stress in most people. The researchers would have been better off using a loud, unexpected noise (dropping a heavy book on the floor behind the subject has been used in some experiments) or requiring the subjects to complete some arbitrary puzzle with a time limit if they wanted to generate stress in their subjects.

    Personally, I'd have used a photo of a client demanding IE6 compatibility for their new web app.

  • by Mister Whirly ( 964219 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:18PM (#31754182) Homepage
    It is desirable becasue that is all part of shooting real bullets out of a gun. If I wanted to shoot lasers, I would. The recoil isn't that hard to simulate - I shot a gun loaded with blanks that had a laser targeting system on it. Probably the closest you can get to simulating the firing of a real bullet. That said it still wasn't even close to the real thing, but closer than some other alternatives.

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