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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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  • Explains (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @03:15AM (#39924757)
    Explains why everyone in Amerika has one or the other food allergy, while they are pretty rare in India
    We dont need ban peanuts,etc from schools/cities,etc. the allergies arent so extreme(or maybe those with alleriges die off pretty soon)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @03:29AM (#39924841)

    If you have allergies, it is a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what nature intended.
    People with allergies will very likely be less suscebtible to viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa.

    I have hayfever (allergy), my gf doesn't. She get's flue infections every year. I havn't had one in 4 years...

  • What a discovery... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @03:44AM (#39924913)

    When I was a child, I was spending weekends and summers in the countryside, eating dirt, ants and flowers, and for some "misterious" reason I was the only kid in my classroom who didn't have any allergy! When I had a kid myself, I was also taking him to the countryside regularly and now he's 26 and also 100% allergy-free. Genetics? I doubt it: his mother, raised 100% in city, is allergic to almost any known allergen out there! Also, discussing the matter with several friends, we noticed the same: take your kids to the Great Outdoors regularly, and they'll be allergy-free; keep them in the city, and expect them to spend springs looking like Rudolph, Santa's reindeer.

  • by Hamsterdan ( 815291 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @04:51AM (#39925171)

    That's how I cured my cat allergies. I couldn't even stand to see a picture of one. So I got one... It was hell for a couple of weeks. Now, 16 years later, no reaction whatsoever unless she scratches or bites me. Even other cats have almost no effect on me now. If you always sterilize, remove germs and ultra-clean everything, of course your body won't know what to fight.

  • Re:Hrumph. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @05:24AM (#39925317) Homepage Journal

    There is! We call it the big blue room. Some people say it has no ceiling. I scoff at them.

    ...personally, I vote for mandatory rural daycare, followed by kindergarten in an industrial district, and so on. By retirement you may live in a glass bubble.

  • Re:Again? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mattsson ( 105422 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @06:41AM (#39925597) Journal

    But this seems more focused on finding the mechanism behind why growing up in a "dirty" environment leads to fewer allergies.
    Possibly, this could lead to a "cure" for those growing up in unhealthy environments, like having overprotective parents, living in a large city or for other reasons being unable to have a healthy childhood environment.
    Maybe it is possible to develop something like those yoghurts with bacteria that helps people with an unhealthy or too sterile diet keep a working digestive system but for people who need something to keep them from developing allergies instead.

  • My anecdote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @06:49AM (#39925633)
    For the record I'm still pretty young, only 25. But I grew up playing in the dirt, playing sports (especially football and baseball). I usually got dirty every day. If I got a cut, I rarely used a bandaid, even more rarely used something like neosporin. My house didn't use a lot of disinfectants, and my sister was the same way I was. I still don't really wash out or clean out cuts and they never get infected (and with where I work, the amount of dirt, oil, and other things I get on me is crazy), I rarely get sick, and I have no allergies. My sister rarely gets sick, and the only allergy she has is to pollen (which is a really common allergy here in Georgia). I firmly believe it was my lifestyle growing up that kept my immune system so strong.

    And yes, I am aware that the plural of anecdote is not data.

  • Re:Explains (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @07:49AM (#39925877)

    Really? Given that infant mortality has gone from several a generation to several generations per occurance in families, are you really sure that we don't see a substantial change in the population? While the gene pool is unlikely to change substantially in a few generations, the number of people who are living with genetic defects in the western world has increased immensely. Start with the extreme examples. People born with Down's syndrome didn't survive very long 100 years ago. People with cystic fibrosis didn't generally survive very long 100 years ago. Babies with GI troubles "failed to thrive" and died. Just because no major "evolution" has occured doesn't mean that the population is ithe same as a century ago.

  • by arcite ( 661011 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @09:10AM (#39926487)
    I was allergic to all kinds of nuts. I have lived all over Africa and no doubt been exposed to countless microbes, I am now allergy free. Pistachios used to be the worst, I couldn't even lick them or my throat would swell up. I now eat them by the bag. There is truth to this, our immune systems were not meant to be exposed to an environment soaked in bleach and disinfectant.
  • Dogs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Barbara, not Barbie ( 721478 ) <`barbara.hudson' `at' `'> on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @09:44AM (#39926881) Journal

    I used to have hay fever, pollen fever, even pollen from trees - kleenex wasn't enough - I'd go through rolls of paper towels, gobs of dristdan nasal spray, lots of anti-histamines, unable to sleep because I couldn't breathe ... nothing really worked.

    I was also allergic to dogs and cats - so I got a dog. Two months of absolute hell, 24/7, because he went with me everywhere ... then one day, it all just stopped. It's been almost two decades with no allergies to dogs, most cats (there was one who could stillmake my eyes water, for some reason) ... no hay fever or pollen allergies whatsoever ...

    Our systems evolved in an environment where they have to distinguish between pathogens that can harm you, and the innocuous stuff like pollen. They aren't all that good at doing the job when there aren't any nasties to "train" against.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson