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Medicine Science

Exposure to Wide Variety of Microbes May Reduce Allergies 120

sciencehabit writes "A new study reveals that people who grow up in more rural environments are less likely to develop allergies. The reason may be that environments rich with species harbor more friendly microbes, which colonize our bodies and protect against inflammatory disorders." From the article: "To test whether or not biodiversity does indeed create a shield against such conditions, the team investigated the microbial diversity of 118 teenagers. The study participants, who had lived in the same houses their whole lives, were chosen at random from a 100-by-150-kilometer block in eastern Finland. Some kids lived on rural, isolated farms, while others lived in larger towns. ... surveyed all of the types of plants growing around the adolescents' homes. The participants were part of a separate long-term allergy study, so the researchers took advantage of that data to investigate the connection between biodiversity and allergies. ... Whether there is just something special about Finland's native plants or whether this finding can be applied around the world is still an open question, Hanski says. 'Many research groups worldwide could easily attain these data from their study populations, and then we'd know how general these results might be.'"
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Exposure to Wide Variety of Microbes May Reduce Allergies

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  • Again? (Score:5, Informative)

    by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @03:19AM (#39924779)
    Hardly news, it's been reported many times over the last few years that research indicates our overly sterile environment is causing problems with alergies, asthsma etc. Heck, even our grandparanents knew this with old wives tales about eating dirt to make you healthy. A collegue from India tells me they have a ceremony involving putting some mud or something in a babies mouth to encourage a healthy defence mechanism.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @03:19AM (#39924783)

    It has already been shown that the children growing in "dirtier" surroundings develop less allergies: . This study shows that there is a correlation between flora diversity near home and allergy rates with people growing up nearby each other.

  • Reverse Causation (Score:4, Informative)

    by dorpus ( 636554 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @09:55AM (#39927019)

    These observational studies did not establish the direction of causation (assuming it is causal). It could be that people who do not have allergies are attracted to (or remain) in farming, while those who are allergic take jobs in the city. I did a report on this in grad school.

  • Re:Again? (Score:4, Informative)

    by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:36AM (#39928613) Journal
    only that this study was far from conclusive.

    Fine, this study was not conclusive. How about we add in this study [] (2008), the same comment from the Mayo Clinic [], this study [] (2012) or this one [] (2012).

    They all say the same thing: getting dirty as a kid and growing up in a rural environment reduces ones vulnerabilities to infections and afflictions. It's called the hygiene hypothesis [] and makes perfect sense when the evidence is examined.

    People, particularly kids, who grow in more sterile environments (constantly using hand sanitizers, over using antibiotics, keeping everything spotless) on the whole, have more allergies and other issues than those who don't go OCD or, if you prefer, Monk.

    Not sure how much more evidence you need when it's staring you in the face.

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