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Thread: Hygiene Hypothesis

  1. #1 Hygiene Hypothesis 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    OK so the hygiene hypothesis was proposed by Dr. Strachan in 1989 to explain the rise in allergic disease in the industrialized world. His theory says that expossure to viruses and microbes provides protection against development of allergies later in life. I recently wrote quite an extensive paper on the topic and have had difficulty comming to conclusions.

    On one side there is strong epidemiological evidence that supports the hypothesis, farm children are less likely to get allergies, and children raised with pets the same.

    On the other hand I am disturbed by the inability to provide evidence for the processes that would lead to this protection. Some major scientist support it, while others say it is complete BS.

    Anyone have an opinion on whether our hygienic environment is giving us allergies?

    Edit: Note that the paper has already been submitted ages ago so this isn't helping me with my homework I'm just interested in the subject


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  3. #2  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    I've heard of the hygiene hypothesis but I'm afraid I don't know too much about it. However, I have a friend who is now allergic to bee stings because when he was a child he was attacked by a whole hive's worth of bees and had to go to the hospital and everything. The theory is that the stress on his body was so bad during that incident that now, any amount of the same stimulation, even a small amount, will result in a massive immune reaction, aka, allergic reaction.

    Did you come across anything about this kind of allergy development in your research?


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  4. #3  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    I've heard of the hygiene hypothesis but I'm afraid I don't know too much about it. However, I have a friend who is now allergic to bee stings because when he was a child he was attacked by a whole hive's worth of bees and had to go to the hospital and everything. The theory is that the stress on his body was so bad during that incident that now, any amount of the same stimulation, even a small amount, will result in a massive immune reaction, aka, allergic reaction.

    Did you come across anything about this kind of allergy development in your research?
    Sorry I mostly focused on respiratory allergens. It seems to me that there is a large amount of conflicting evidence. The bodies response varies a great deal depending on the type of allergen and the form of expossure. They found that cat dander produces an IgG response, which is very unlikely to cause allergies, but dust mite allergens produce high IgE responses that are very likely to induce allergies. I've come to the conclusion that it is a complex interaction between a person's genetics and the type of allergens they are exposed to.

    There is intensive research done on bee venom allergies, apparently there has been success in using venom immunotherapy to reduce the severity of the allergic reactions.
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  5. #4  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    my understanding was that the immune system needs to be primed at an early age to recognise foreign and harmful substances

    the theory of excessive cleanliness claims that these stimuli are insufficient to prime the immune system and henceforth it reacts to stimuli that it shouldn't

    not sure whether this explanation applies to nut allergies though - at varioius times this has been linked to the use of nut extracts in baby foods (how i have no idea)
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  6. #5  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    my understanding was that the immune system needs to be primed at an early age to recognise foreign and harmful substances

    the theory of excessive cleanliness claims that these stimuli are insufficient to prime the immune system and henceforth it reacts to stimuli that it shouldn't

    not sure whether this explanation applies to nut allergies though - at varioius times this has been linked to the use of nut extracts in baby foods (how i have no idea)
    It's not that simple, negative selection is done in the thymus to eliminate self-reactive T-lymphocytes (most of which are produced prior to puberty). Anything non-self is recognized by the immune system to be destroyed. Somehow, the body knows not to attack the commensal bacteria of the gut or to attack the food we eat. I'm still confused lol.

    Anyway, in light of the possibility of ultra-hygienic conditions being harmful to people's health. Should parents be advised not to use so many antiseptic compounds in the home?
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