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Medicine Science

Being Too Clean Can Make People Sick 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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Being Too Clean Can Make People Sick

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  • by Capt.DrumkenBum ( 1173011 ) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:00PM (#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.
  • by Saishuuheiki ( 1657565 ) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:05PM (#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.

  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:06PM (#34379520) Journal

    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.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:07PM (#34379556) Journal

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

  • by SpeedyDX ( 1014595 ) <speedyphoenix@gm ... m minus math_god> on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:08PM (#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.

  • by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:13PM (#34379664) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:16PM (#34379724) Homepage

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

  • Re:Yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:18PM (#34379742) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by maxwells_deamon ( 221474 ) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:19PM (#34379776) Homepage

    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?

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:22PM (#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.

  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:26PM (#34379914)

    Fear of Germs. [youtube.com]

    Skip ahead to 1:49.

  • Re:Yawn (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:28PM (#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.

  • It's a dog's life (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jbarr ( 2233 ) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:30PM (#34379970) Homepage

    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.

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionary@nOspaM.yahoo.com> on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:31PM (#34380002) Journal

    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.

  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:58PM (#34380438)

    Subject: No shit !
    Content: nuff said
    Moderation: (Score:2, Informative)

    Would some of the moderators, please, inform me which information is that post bringing to me?

  • by JasperHW ( 710218 ) on Monday November 29, 2010 @06:52PM (#34381216)
    Average lifespan was 40 precisely because mortality rates were so high. If you made it through the deadzone known as childhood, you could expect a reasonably long life, assuming a virulent plague or war didn't do you in.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 29, 2010 @07:04PM (#34381368)
    Probably not, seeing as mods can't mod and post. And it may only take one mod to get to that offensive +2, Informative. But this is getting a little meta; go smoke some ganja and chill out.
  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Monday November 29, 2010 @09:11PM (#34382736) Homepage Journal
    "Heck, if you can convince adult males to do so, I'd donate half my wealth to your cause. I'm still astounded by the number of men in who, after using a public restroom, just splash a little water on their hands and walk out, touching everything on their way."

    You know, with enough care and a couple years practice, you can, as a male, learn to easily take a leak and not piss on yourself. If you don't piss on your hands, why do you need to scrub your hands?

    I mean, I *do* tend to wash my dick along with the rest of my body in the morning shower....so, it is just as clean as any other part of my body, and I don't need to wash my hands every time I touch my chin or my forehead...?

  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Monday November 29, 2010 @09:14PM (#34382764) Homepage Journal

    Because we're not born with immunity to most things. We acquire it from low level exposure. If you remove all of those initial low level exposures from someone's life, they won't acquire immunity. It makes perfect sense.


  • by IHC Navistar ( 967161 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @04:47AM (#34386076)
    Someone ought to throw the idiots who allow this crap to get posted under a bus. I'm getting sick of reading "breakthrough" and "discovery" articles about stuff that was, and still is, already known 40+ years before SlashDot was around. We knew this back in grammar school, while some high-paid, University egg-head rehashes old research and claims some kind of discovery!
  • by Stone2065 ( 717387 ) <Stone2065@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @08:11AM (#34386940) Homepage
    When I was a kid, no such thing as "anti bacterial soap" existed for the public's use. Soap, of several varieties did, and that was used. I played in the mud as a kid, drank out of the hose in the yard (in the summer, you ran it because the water in it was HOT... not to clean/clear anything out of it that may be bad for you or living in there. I remember seeing ants and/or spiders crawl out of the hose when I picked it up. I ran the water until a cool temp, drank, and shut off the hose without giving it a second thought.) and like most kids those (and these?) days, usually cleaned up when Mom and/or Dad forced you to. Was I sick? Not really. Maybe a cold every year or two, depending on where we lived. As an adult, I never was phobic about any and all germs around me. At my current age (45), I am still healthy as a horse. I don't really remember the last time I had a cold that was much more than simple sniffles. The last time I missed work was from hernia surgery. I have that wonderful feature of an IMMUNE SYSTEM. I feel that your body can be conditioned to have one. Anti bacterial soaps, etc. kill EVERY germ you have on your skin, both good AND bad. No thanks. I never have used that stuff, and have ZERO interest in using it. I'll stick to common soaps and shampoos, thanks... Now GET OFF MY LAWN (and I'll get off my soapbox, no pun intended)

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