Immune System Gone Bad

There are generally two schools of thought surrounding the growth of allergies in the twentieth century. Both have evidence in their favor, and neither is complete. Both explain why developed countries have seen such a dramatic increase of allergies, whereas developing nations have not.

_Everyday Chemicals_ – Since the end of World War II, an abundance of chemicals has been introduced into the human environment. Not just the HFCS in our soda pop, but the things in soap and shampoo, the chemical residue on our dishes, leftover Teflon from a pan, or the phthalates that leech out of PVC pipes. It’s true that preservatives and additives all undergo years of testing before they are approved for human consumption, but that handful of years mayn’t be adequate to understand what a lifetime of use can do to a body. No one assumes that any one of our common chemicals is responsible, but all in conjunction are creating an adverse holistic effect.

_The Hygiene Hypothesis_ – Over millions of years the human body has armed itself against a number of ills. It’s had to stockpile immune system weapons for all manner of parasites, germs, and junk, but in our age of daily baths, kitchen sanitizers, and purified water those weapons are somewhat superfluous. A million years of hard-won evolution don’t turn inactive after a mere hundred years of environment. No, instead they go cabin-fever, and freak out attack even benign substances like pollen and dust with a fervor of pent-up frustration.

See Immune System Gone Bad on Damn Interesting.

About Kevin

Kevin Jarnot is a technologist who lives just South of Boston, MA. He is currently employed as Chief Technology Officer at DebtX, a financial services technology company based in Boston.
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0 Responses to Immune System Gone Bad

  1. bridget says:

    i kind of ascribe to the hygeine hypothesis (though for me i generally try to just not take medication unless it is totally necessary)…in general we (especially in north america) have overused stuff like antibiotics (both in pharmacuticals and in soaps) that we’ve concurrently created environments that are suitable for much stronger germs (since many antibiotic things only kill 98% of bacteria, eventually leaving a really strong 2%) plus antibtiocs are really bad for our immune systems, more than most people think. we need to have good bacterias and fungii in our systems, but constant prescriptions of antibiotics can help wipe those out and cause so many really nasty stomach problems, and there is a fairly large group of people who feel it can cause systemic problems, but as of yet a lot of that is unsubstantiated outside of anecdotal evidence.

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