Dangers%20from%20killing%20germs

Dangers%20from%20killing%20germs - Caution: Killing Germs...

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Caution: Killing Germs May Be Hazardous to Your Health Our war on microbes has toughened them. Now, new science tells us we should embrace bacteria. Jerry Adler and Jeneen Interlandi NEWSWEEK From the magazine issue dated Oct 29, 2007 Behold yourself, for a moment, as an organism. A trillion cells stuck together, arrayed into tissues and organs and harnessed by your DNA to the elemental goals of survival and propagation. But is that all? An electron microscope would reveal that you are teeming with other life-forms. Any part of your body that comes into contact with the outside world—your skin, mouth, nose and (especially) digestive tract—is home to bacteria, fungi and protozoa that outnumber the cells you call your own by 10, or perhaps a hundred, to one. Their ancestors began colonizing you the moment you came into the world, inches from the least sanitary part of your mother's body, and their descendants will have their final feast on your corpse, and join you in death. There are thousands of different species, found in combinations "as unique as our DNA or our fingerprints," says Stanford biologist David Relman, who is investigating the complex web of interactions microbes maintain with our digestive, immune and nervous systems. Where do you leave off, and they begin? Microbes, Relman holds, are "a part of who we are." Relman is a leader in rethinking our relationship to bacteria, which for most of the last century was dominated by the paradigm of Total Warfare. "It's awful the way we treat our microbes," he says, not intending a joke; "people still think the only good microbe is a dead one." We try to kill them off with antibiotics and hand sanitizers. But bacteria never surrender; if there were one salmonella left in the world, doubling every 30 minutes, it would take less than a week to give everyone alive diarrhea. In the early years of antibiotics, doctors dreamed of eliminating infectious disease. Instead, a new paper in The Journal of the American Medical Association reports on the prevalence of Methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which was responsible for almost 19,000 deaths in the United States in 2005—about twice as many as previously thought, and more than AIDS. Elizabeth Bancroft, a leading epidemiologist, called this finding "astounding." As antibiotics lose their effectiveness, researchers are returning to an idea that dates back to Pasteur, that the body's natural microbial flora aren't just an incidental fact of our biology, but crucial components of our health, intimate companions on an evolutionary journey that began millions of years ago. The science writer Jessica Snyder Sachs summarizes this view in four words in the title of her ground-breaking new book: "Good Germs, Bad Germs." Our microbes do us the favor of synthesizing vitamins right in our guts; they regulate our immune systems and even our serotonin levels: germs, it seems, can make us happy. They influence how we digest our food, how much we eat
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This note was uploaded on 08/08/2009 for the course BIOL 202 taught by Professor Y during the Spring '09 term at McGill.

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Dangers%20from%20killing%20germs - Caution: Killing Germs...

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