You Dirty Healthy Rat?
Steven Milloy at Junk Science links to an AP article carried by the New York Times titled "Rat Study Shows Dirty Better Than Clean."
"Washington -- Gritty rats and mice living in sewers and farms seem to have healthier immune systems than their squeaky clean cousins that frolic in cushy antiseptic labs, two studies indicate. The lesson for humans: Clean living may make us sick.
The studies give more weight to a 17-year-old theory that the sanitized Western world may be partly to blame for soaring rates of human allergy and asthma cases and some autoimmune diseases, such as Type I diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. The theory, called the hygiene hypothesis, figures that people's immune systems aren't being challenged by disease and dirt early in life, so the body's natural defenses overreact to small irritants such as pollen."
It doesn't surprize me that the Western world is being blamed for the above mentioned diseases and maladies. It is true that as the air in the U.S. has become cleaner the asthma rate has gone up. I do think there may be some merit in the hygiene hypothesis. However, I want to draw your attention to the phrase 'sanitized Western world' and a little later in the article this sentence:
"Human epidemiological studies have long given credence to the hygiene theory, showing that allergy and asthma rates were higher in the cleaner industrialized areas than in places such as Africa."
It seems ironic that the "Western," "industrialized" world can be referred to as "sanitized" and "cleaner" when most of the time Western industrialized nations are reviled as the dirtiest polluters on the planet. Oh Well.
The scientists did say that they wanted to find things that would "exercise the immune system" without having to expose people to actual dirt so I suppose that's a good thing.
I am told that lab mice and rats are speciffically bred to pop out tumors much faster than wild ones would.