Allergies Related to too Much Hygiene

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As America’s allergy rates and food allergy frequencies have soared nearly 20 percent in the last decade, more researchers and medical scientists are considering the possible and logical truth behind the hygiene hypothesis. The hygiene hypothesis suggests that growing up in developed nations weakens and enfeebles our immune systems. When our immune system is not in a constant battle with dangerous bacteria, it doesn’t know what to fight against. This results in the immune system ends up fighting against substances which are not dangerous, like food.

Allergies are far more common in rich nations that in poor, developing nations. The hygiene hypothesis believes this occurs because people in poor countries tend to be riddled with parasites which are natural to their environments. Studies in Africa and South America have tested groups of parasite-infected people and found them to have minimal to no allergies present. These people were then treated with medicine, which killed off all the parasites in their bodies. As time passed and the people became parasite-free, most of them then developed allergies. Researchers concluded, “the presence of parasites in the body acts on the immune system and somehow avoids an allergic reaction.” This data presents legitimate evidence supporting the notion that perhaps developed nations are too hygienic, and are adversely harming ourselves. Are we killing ourselves with cleanliness?

Title: Are We Killing Ourselves With Cleanliness?  As Number of Allergy Sufferers Soar, Potential Cures Are More Radical
Publication: AlterNet
Date: November 27, 2010
Author: Anneli Rufus
URL: Kayla Peirano- Sonoma State University

Faculty Evaluator: Marty Frankel- Nursing Professor at Sonoma State University