Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 28, 2013

Hyper-cleanliness may make us prone to getting sick

(Continued)

According to the hygiene hypothesis, bad things can happen if this early exposure doesn't take place or if it doesn't include the right microbes. The immune system can become overly sensitive, overreacting to non-threats such as pollen or dander as if they're potentially harmful. When combined with certain genetic traits, this process can lead to conditions such as asthma and allergies, says Kathleen Barnes, an immunogeneticist at Johns Hopkins University who specializes in the genetics of asthma.

Barnes' work has revealed that although genes play a key role in the development of asthma, changing a population's exposure to microbes — by protecting them from parasitic diseases, for example — can make asthma rates rise. That suggests that hygiene may also play a role in asthma.

"It can't all be due to genes, because if we look at the prevalence of asthma or diseases of inflammation over the past 50 years, we see it's definitely on the rise," Barnes says. "It's some interaction between the genes and the environment that's causing these rates to skyrocket."

But researchers can't say which particular interactions with the environment help prevent disease later on. That's because exposures tend to come in combinations, and teasing apart their effects on the body is difficult.

Take farming, for instance. Several studies have suggested that growing up on a farm can protect children from allergies and other immune-system-related conditions, but it's hard to know which element of farm living does the trick.

A 2012 study of Amish and Swiss farm and non-farm children found that the farm-dwelling kids had significantly lower rates of asthma, hay fever and eczema. But the farm dwellers differed from their non-farm peers in several ways: They had more exposure to livestock and the microbes that come with them; they were more likely to drink raw milk, which contains microbes not found in pasteurized milk; and they tended to have more siblings at home.

Text Only
Local News
  • State’s longest trail system turns 35

    The Sheltowee Trace was officially dedicated as part of the National Recreation Trail system in 1979. After 35 years, the trail remains Kentucky’s longest distance trail, estimated at 307 miles.
     

    July 21, 2014

  • Pancake releases new album

    The top of the Sky Tower in downtown Ashland was booming Saturday night with music from Larry Pancake’s new album “Fair Weather Friend.”
     

    July 21, 2014

  • Telephone scammer fleeces man of $5,000

    A telephone scammer claimed another area victim when a Williams Avenue man paid $5,000 after the con artist told him he had won a sweepstakes but had to pay taxes on the prize money before collecting it, according to Ashland Police Department reports.
     

    July 21, 2014

  • Murder defendant pleads guilty on lesser charge, sentenced to 8 years

    One of four charged with murder in a 2008 double killing pleaded guilty to a lesser charge Monday just before his trial was to start.

    July 21, 2014

  • MIA Rush Marine to rest in Arlington

    Finding Dottie McCoy’s uncle after 71 years was the biggest part of the struggle.

    July 21, 2014

  • Morehead gets Trail Town status

    It has been two and a half years in the making and it happens today.
    Morehead will officially be designated a Kentucky Trail Town following Dawson Springs and Livingston.

    July 21, 2014

  • Fallsburg’s traditional haunt attracts unique talents

    Brian Cassidy said there is no substitute for individual talent while tackling tasks ranging from sculpting a massive hillbilly to inventing paintball gun brackets capable of withstanding the pressures caused by an incoming zombie attack.

    July 21, 2014

  • Local in brief: 7/22/14

    The Kentucky Interagency Coordination Center on Sunday mobilized two fire crews to assist with firefighting efforts in the western United States.

    July 21, 2014

  • marine3.jpg MIA Rush Marine to rest in Arlington

    Finding Dottie McCoy’s uncle after 71 years was the biggest part of the struggle.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • 0722burger2.JPG TIM PRESTON: Burgers for Boyd County bragging rights

    Looking at Saturday morning’s rainy skies, I assumed my duties as a judge for the first tailgate and burger grilling competition at the Boyd County Fairgrounds would be canceled.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos