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GERMOPHOBIA!
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August 8, 2010
10:45 pm
First-Eater
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February 22, 2010
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Americans have become paranoid about germs. We buy billions of dollars of alcohol wipes, hand sanitizers, and antibacterial soaps (even though triclosan has been proven to be both ineffective and a bioaccumulative pollutant...)

Aiello, A.E., Larson, E.L. & Levy, S.B. (2007) Consumer antibacterial soaps: Effective or just risky? Clinical Infectious Diseases, 45:S137-S147.
(Or, a popularized version with more references.)

Here is a typically scary article about "The Germiest Places In America."
AAAAAA! GERMS EVERYWHERE! AAAAAAAAAAA!

Grim, isn't it? The first world is apparently one giant, festering reservoir of filth and disease. (One hopes the authors of this article never travel to, say, India...or even…

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January 31, 2011
7:11 pm
Rapid-weight-loss &q
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[...] Sleep aid Meatshare! A frittata where eggs play a minor role / Sage oven-roasted veggies w/sausage Germophobia! Why bacon is a gateway to meat for [...]

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March 26, 2011
11:01 am
Andrés
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Thanks for your blog!

I write just to point out that the link to this page from the Favorite Posts of the Moment is messed up: http://www.gnolls.org/156/germophobia/%3Cbr%20/%3E instead of http://www.gnolls.org/156/germophobia.

Take care!

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March 26, 2011
6:42 pm
First-Eater
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February 22, 2010
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Andres:

The "Physical Fitness: Who Cares?" link was broken too, for the same reason. I've fixed them. Thanks for pointing that out!

I wish I understood enough Spanish to comprehend technical articles on bomb calorimetry...your site looks quite interesting (http://guia-de-energia.blogspot.com)

JS

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June 21, 2011
7:04 pm
Courtney West
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Americans have been brainwashed to believe that external microbes cause disease rather than a polluted bloodstream, weakened immune system, degenerating eliminatory organs (e.g. liver, kidney), and other adverse consequences of a high-sugar diet.
Humans have evolved with microbes for millions of years without developing the pervasive allergies and chronic illnesses commonly found among bacteriaphobic Westerners. The following weblink briefly describes this phenomenon.
http://www.naturopathicresources.com/images/FalseFoundation.pdf

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June 22, 2011
5:29 pm
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Courtney:

Bacteria and viruses are indeed omnipresent, and in most cases, sickness is indeed a factor of reduced health and immunity, not of simple exposure.

However, the article claims that this invalidates the germ theory of disease, which is hyperbole.  Obviously if germs successfully invaded everyone, then we would either be sick all the time or dead!  And there are some germs which are deadly regardless of our immunity: smallpox, for instance, killed tens of millions of very healthy Native Americans.

JS

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January 31, 2012
5:56 am
Sara C.
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The omnipresence of alcohol wipes and sanitizers is only serving to create more resistant bacteria. Humans evolved to be immune to the majority of these bacteria, and the bacteria evolve to overcome the immunity. They also evolve to overcome our efforts to eradicate them. We are not eliminating germs on the face of the planet. We are making them stronger. I rarely sanitize (except upon leaving the bathroom... ) and I also rarely get sick. People are afraid of dying, but you can sanitize everything you touch every twenty minutes, and ultimately get hit by a bus.

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February 1, 2012
2:44 pm
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Sara C:

That's a good point...it's much like the overuse of antibiotics (primarily via feeding them to cattle) creates antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  Continual selection for resistance to common antibacterial sanitizers seems like it would ensure that they won't work when we really need them to (e.g. in hospitals and during sickness/injury).

JS

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February 4, 2012
2:02 pm
Wanderer
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February 4, 2012
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I work as a trainer at a gym and occasionally I'll walk near the front counter and someone will ask me to hand them a bottle of water. One day I grab a bottle of water around the neck of the bottle and hand it over. The says "from the middle please". Confused I go back to the cooler and reach for a bottle in the middle of the shelf. She says "no, from the middle of the bottle". It all became clear. She didnt want my hand near the top of the bottle she was about to drink out of. She apparently does this to everyone.

Wow.

There was a great National Geographic that discussed a study done on Russian children I believe it was. They found those that lived on farms had virtually no allergies. This article discusses the same idea.

http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/health-and-human-body/human-body/allergy-misery-article.html

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February 4, 2012
3:03 pm
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Shadowzz4:

There are a lot of people like that.

The article draws an important distinction, which is that it's not about being dirty: it's about being exposed to animals and other "natural" dirt.  It's during the breastfeeding period that our immune systems develop -- and I suspect that exposure to animals, plants, soil, and the associated bacteria during that time programs the immune system to recognize these things as natural.  In contrast, living in a city doesn't expose you to life...it just exposes you to grime.

Thanks for linking the NG article!  Do stick around.

JS

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February 17, 2013
6:25 am
Martin @ Leaky Gut R
Guest

We evolved to resist bacilli, cocci, spirochetes ..., however we may not have the defense mechanisms against the chemicals in the antibacterial wipes. Consequently they may be more dangerous than the bacteria itself.

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February 19, 2013
3:21 pm
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Martin:

That is also a concern.

JS

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March 1, 2013
5:46 am
Randal
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I think the article is dead on for most Americans. Through the overuse of antibiotics (including what they get through factory raised meat and milk), lousy diet, avoidence of sunlight and other factors, most Americans likely have no immunity system left. They likely have to become OCD in order to survive.

As for me, I avoid doctors and medications like the plague (pun intended), eat right and get plenty of sunshine.

I have an immunity system that could kill small animals by itself.

Avoiding medications and eating healthy as opposed to being OCD about germs, works for me.

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March 4, 2013
12:16 am
First-Eater
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Randal:

In addition to not developing a robust immune response to genuine challenges, it seems that by trying to maintain an antiseptic environment, we become sensitized to perfectly natural antigens as well.

JS

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March 4, 2013
7:06 am
Madison, WI, USA
Gnoll
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September 24, 2012
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Hence why allergies to things like dust, pollen, and other outdoor "pathogens" exist.  Plus, I save money by not worrying about it (no hand soap, etc.).

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"Often we forget . . . the sky reaches to the ground . . . with each step . . . we fly."  ~We Fly, The House Jacks
April 21, 2013
2:41 am
Egypt with occasional trips back to Texas
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February 28, 2013
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I started working ambulances in 1975 and continued on through as a paramedic until the mid-1990s working both the "streets" and offshore. My work in the oil and gas industry has taken me to 14 different countries with a lot of my work being in Africa.

While a paramedic I have been exposed to everything from active TB to HIV to Hep (all of them).

I have, for the most part, shunned any vacinations, I don't take any medication (over the counter or otherwise) and I can, and will, eat damn near anything.

And, I don't get sick!

Like George Carlin said, how does my body develop an immunity to germs when it is never exposed to them? And (are you sitting down?) I don't wash my hands everytime I go to the bathroom. As George said, "only time I wash my hands after using the bathroom is when I shit on my hands and that happens tops, tops! Once, maybe twice a week".

I very much subscribe to the hygiene hypothesis concept.

And regarding the overuse of antibiotics, my theory is that the overuse of antibiotics has done two things. Damaged the "good" bacteria in the bodies of most Americans and, put their own immunity system in neutral. Being bombarded with antibiotics has given a signal to the immunity systems of most Americans that it does not have to work, the calvary is here.

I think this has all lead to the increase of not only autoimmune diseases but also cancers.

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April 21, 2013
2:48 am
First-Eater
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February 22, 2010
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Randal:

I suspect you're correct in large part.

JS

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April 21, 2013
6:29 am
Madison, WI, USA
Gnoll
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September 24, 2012
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I only "wash" my hands with water most of the time, hardly ever use soap.  This is also true of washing any dishes, I rarely use dish soap.

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"Often we forget . . . the sky reaches to the ground . . . with each step . . . we fly."  ~We Fly, The House Jacks
December 19, 2013
8:10 pm
gina
Guest

I would rather live on a farm or virgin islands than nasty America. We spit out our gum or vomit when we are drunk. That's why Americans are germophobic since we are disgusting. 50 Years ago; we would not have treated the outside like a garabage can. Or a toilet! Germs of today are not the ones of yesterday!

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December 20, 2013
10:55 am
Madison, WI, USA
Gnoll
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September 24, 2012
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I think it has more to do with antibiotic use and the poor gut health of most Americans than anything, gina.  Read Michael Pollen's New York Times article called "Some of My Best Friends are Gems", it's all about how having healthy good microbes in our digestive track are vital to one's health. 

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"Often we forget . . . the sky reaches to the ground . . . with each step . . . we fly."  ~We Fly, The House Jacks
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