Why Are Asthma Rates Soaring?

A recent article in Scientific American questions the “hygiene hypothesis” that increases in asthma rates are related to better sanitary conditions which deprive our immune systems the opportunity and ability to fight disease or combat common allergens.  Though scientists believe that the hygiene hypothesis might play a role in asthma, they believe the spike in asthma rates are caused by multiple factors:  “Besides the hygiene hypothesis, what can explain the increase in asthma rates? Other suggested causes include a rise in sedentary lifestyle, which could affect lung strength, and the rise in obesity, which increases inflammation throughout the body. A reworking of the hygiene hypothesis that focuses on changes in the normal nondisease-causing bacteria that live inside and on the body (in the intestines or the airways or on the skin) has promise. Studies by von Mutius and others have shown that children who live on farms where cows or pigs are raised and where they drink raw milk almost never have asthma, allergic or otherwise. Presumably because the children drank unpasteurized milk and handled livestock, they have different strains of normal bacteria in their airways that are somehow more protective than those found in city kids.” To read more click here.

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