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Ancient Teeth Bacteria Record Disease Evolution 97

An anonymous reader writes "DNA preserved in calcified bacteria on the teeth of ancient human skeletons has shed light on the health consequences of the evolving diet and behavior from the Stone Age to the modern day. The ancient genetic record reveals the negative changes in oral bacteria brought about by the dietary shifts as humans became farmers, and later with the introduction of food manufacturing in the Industrial Revolution."
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Ancient Teeth Bacteria Record Disease Evolution

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  • Just another way of McDonalds to tell us to eat more meat and less salad.
    • I would not be at all surprised if that is the healthier option from Maccy D's!
    • Bread. Bread is the enemy. Not salad. Good old high-density carbs. Low-density ones (sugars), aren't great either.

      To me that doesn't sound much like something the fast food industry would want to encourage. Definitely more of an expensive restaurant agenda.

  • We may have some researchers getting way ahead of their results. The same plentiful, storable food is probably a big reason so many more of today's humans even survive long enough to "suffer" having a less bacteriologically diverse oral ecosystem. (And we also have fluoridated water, which really works quite well.) I would be more careful making comparative value judgments about what is still an interesting finding.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      . (And we also have fluoridated water, which really works quite well.) .

      Tell that to Dr Strangelove ;-)

    • by deimtee ( 762122 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @08:22AM (#42934157) Journal
      I recently read a lot of stuff on fluoride, from both sides of the debate. Taking the admitted negatives from the pro side and the admitted positives from the anti side, and following links to actual articles when i could, my conclusions were:
      1/ Small amounts of topical fluoride have a beneficial effect on teeth
      2/ Large amounts of ingested fluoride weaken both your bones and teeth.
      3/ Ingested fluoride accumulates in the body, mostly in the bones. 50% of what is ingested is never excreted.
      4/ There is a slight correlation between water fluoridation and dental health.
      5/ The possible benfits of water fluoridation are hard to quantiry because they are swamped by the effects of fluoride toothpaste
      6/ There is at least as strong a correlation between water fluoridation and hip breakage in the elderly.
      7/ Both sides are pushing an agenda, everything reads like propaganda unless you read the actual journal articles.
    • by g253 ( 855070 )
      It is a misconception that we live (much) longer, people think that because they hear of a life expectancy of 40 years or something like that, but that's the life expectancy _at birth_ . If you lived to be twenty, you could reasonably hope to live to be seventy. What we have now is less infant mortality, not longer lives.
  • by BBCWatcher ( 900486 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @04:32AM (#42933419)
    If you had a choice, would you kiss a cave woman (or man) with her/his supposedly lovely oral biodiversity, or a member of the Scope, Colgate, and Oral-B generation? I would bet a lot that, if someone had those oral inventions 7,500 years ago, he/she would have passed on a lot more DNA to future generations.
    • Blackadder: I would rather french-kiss a skunk. Baldrick: Ay, so would I, sir.
    • by gmuslera ( 3436 )

      When you was a baby, your mother passed you a good load of healthy bacterias [discovery.com] while feeding you. And not sure if were just intestinal ones.

      Even later in life, kissing increases immunity and reduce allergies, probably because of that passed biodiversity. But with our generation addicted to antibacterial toothpastes and antibiotics, most that will be passed will be antibiotic/antibacterial resistant bacteries, good luck with that.

    • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
      Cave woman. If your diet and health is so bad that you require all those products plus teeth whiteners to be attractive, you aren't.

      Same reason I prefer a woman without deodarant. If you stink you aren't feeding your body properly, coffee, cigarettes, nitrates and phosphates being the big offenders.

      • Uhh... no. I've shopped in the whole foods store and trust me, bacteria still grow in the sweaty pits of the vegetarian folks.
        • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
          Who says that the majority of vegetarians are healthy? Western ones certainly aren't. Nor does it speak to their hygiene routine or their stress levels or their ability to wash their clothes regularly. In the west they're usually as clueless as the carnivores.
    • I wouldn't kiss a cave woman, basically because of the mustache.
  • shall be to return to the ways of the past. Stop the brushing. Lets get out our raw meat and vegetables, and slowly revive those bacteria populations ...
    I shall call it the Bacteriophilic Trials of the 22nd Century.
  • Maybe they will now find that mysterious 5th dentist that would not reccomend Trident Sugarless Gum.

  • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @07:42AM (#42934017)
    The source, not linked in TFA, is Adelaide University: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/news59301.html [adelaide.edu.au]

    Link to the source, not some asshole plagiarising it to get ad hits.

  • I find the current obsession with Paleolithic Diet and all that it implies disturbing.. so much so I'm keen to smack some of its adherents in the head with a club.. or at least a large animal bone.
    • all that it implies

      Oh, do tell. I'm more concerned with cutting carbohydrate than being properly paleo, but the overlap is huge, so I often end up poring over paleo sites for recipes. I've lost 80 lbs/ 35 kg in the past year with no other intervention. Is it right for you? Don't know. It's sure as hell right for me.

      Not directed at ferrisoxide: if you are tempted to say "just eat less", then you are not the person who needs to hear this message. The experience of those who have never had difficulty losing weight is as releva

      • I actually wasn't trying to take a stab at the Paleo diet - it was just a feeble attempt at humour in the vein of responding to like with like.

        The Paleo diet makes a lot of sense, and I'm glad you've had such an excellent experience with it. More power to you.

        What I take umbrage at is the idea that "everything was better in the old days" kind of mentality, implied in the original article. Enough said, I'll go back to my cave now. :)

      • The "problem" with the paleo diet is that it excludes whole grains. Grains account for somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-70% of the worlds calories, and is the foundation of the human diet. Paleo is at the very top of the food chain. If the entire world was forced to switch to such a diet (for whatever made up reason), it would mean starvation for roughly 80% of the worlds population. It is healthy and fine for the 1% of people that can afford the diet, but advocating for widespread conversion to the d
        • Paleo need not be hunter-gatherer; pastoralists like the Masai eat an essentially all-animal diet.

          You are of course correct that grain-eaters will outnumber and thus conquer most H-G people, but that doesn't make any statement either way about the health properties of the diets. A real whole-grain diet doesn't look anything like what most Americans eat, for starters.
  • by InterGuru ( 50986 ) <jhd AT interguru DOT com> on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:59AM (#42934719) Homepage

    Most mammals live for a billion (10^9) heartbeats, humans live about 60 years, twice as long. One theory is the Grandmother Effect [theatlantic.com]. That is having older women share the burden of childrearing aided in the children's survival.

    In the 1980s, Kristen Hawkes and James O'Connell spent time with Hadza hunter-gatherers. They noticed that the older women in the society spent their days collecting tubers and other food for their grandchildren. That was the proverbial fallen apple that sparked Hawkes' interest in the Grandmother Theory, which says that humans evolved to live so long because grandmothers were around to help take care of the young'uns.

  • Many years ago (maybe 15) I read in New Scientist about a group in Sweden that had genetically engineered some mouth bacteria to hunt down and exterminate the bad bugs that cause tooth decay. One rinse of their mouthwash and you could kiss goodbye to the dentist forever.
    I've never heard any more about it though, and I don't have access to the New Scientist archives, sadly.

    • In response to this, I googled " Sweden that had genetically engineered some mouth bacteria", straight from your post.

      The first entry was Wikipedia. The second entry, from ABC news, was as follows:

      "A Bacteria That Could Keep Your Mouth Clean for Good - ABC News" [go.com]

      Google is your friend. Enjoy your mouthwash.

      • by smugfunt ( 8972 )

        Good find, that page doesn't come up in Duck Duck Go.
        The paper seems to be from 2000. It says they've been working on it since the early eighties. It's possible that until today I hadn't thought about it since before Google was invented :-)
        But at that rate I'll have a flying car before I get my mouthwash.

        • by smugfunt ( 8972 )

          This is the company: Oragenics [oragenics.com]
          The engineered treatment is 'currently in clinical trials' but they have a probiotic product which looks interesting.

"In matrimony, to hesitate is sometimes to be saved." -- Butler