Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tough Boogers: Could Eating Boogers Boost Immunity?

My thoughts:  I'm not sure how far we can take this whole immunity thing.  Just at lunch, my mom was telling me that I should drink out of the same cup as she did, because it boosts immunity.  Naturally, I couldn't help but worry if there was a dangerous virus on it!  I've had similar fights with people online - I once discussed the effect kissing had on immunity, and we couldn't come up with a good answer.  Now we have to deal with this.  Ultimately, I think that professor Schaffner might be correct, as humans take in mucus from the back of the nose all the time.  But perhaps this mucus doesn't have as many germs as the mucus that is closer to the front of the nose, which is more likely to make up boogers.  Also, just what can we eat without seriously risking our health, and how much of it?  I know that if we eat a small amount of raw cookie dough, we won't get sick, but eating it in large amounts is dangerous.  But doesn't cookie dough contain awful bacteria?  Maybe it depends on what kind of "dirt" we eat - some bacteria may prove more dangerous than others.  Unfortunately, this is a terribly difficult question that I cannot answer.  But I think research scientists need to find the best balance of germs that will boost immunity - without this information, previous studies such as this one do not offer the most accurate insight.  Feel free to comment.


Professor Asks If Eating Boogers Boosts Immunity

Apr 30, 2013 7:00am
ht scott napper jef 130429 wblog Professor Asks If Eating Boogers Boosts Immunity
Scott Napper is seen in this undated photo from the University of Saskatchewan. (Credit: University of Saskatchewan)
Scott Napper has a hypothesis: What if his daughters’ tendency to pick their noses and eat the dried nasal mucus —  their boogers — actually had some health benefits?
Napper, who teaches biochemistry at the University of  Saskatchewan in Canada, told the CBC  that he’d wondered whether the “sugary” taste of the dried mucus was meant to signal to the body that consuming pathogens caught in the mucus was a good thing.
“I’ve got two beautiful daughters, and they spend an amazing amount of time with their fingers up their nose,” Napper told CBC. ” And without fail, it goes right into their mouth afterwards. Could they just be fulfilling what we’re truly meant to do?”
The hygiene hypothesis has long blamed allergies, asthma and autoimmune disorders on a lack of exposure to certain pathogens early in life. Napper contends that eating boogers exposes people — and their immune systems — to the pathogens inside.
Napper said he uses his  hypothesis to engage his first-year biochemistry students.  He told  the CBC that he’s already been approached by people looking to participate in a study.
But Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, said it’s not likely that eating boogers would offer much additional immune system support, because people already unconsciously swallow nasal mucus.


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