Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Bacteria are good for health, protect us from cancers, and other serious health issues

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: “Stop killing and demonizing microbes”. This is the
new health campaign by scientists around the world, particularly those
in India.

Contrary to popular belief, several research studies including in
Hyderabad have revealed that a number of microbes particularly
bacteria actually boost the immune system in human beings and protect
them from dangerous diseases like asthma and cancer. The researchers
warn against indiscriminate use of antibiotics and cosmetics including
anti-bacterial soaps as they kill microbes that keep people healthy.

In Indian setting where hygiene is often compromised, the beneficial
result of these microbes explains the good health of a vast majority
of people living even in slums.

According to researchers at the University of Hyderabad, the human
body contains about 100 trillion bacterial cells with 3.3 million
genes. This is in contrast to just 30,000 genes decoded so far in
human genome. These bacterial genes play a great role in shaping the
behaviour of humans and the physiological and biological functioning
of the human body.

“Excessive use of cosmetics, antibiotics and anti-germ soaps does have
wide spread implication on individual’s health. Microbes protect
people from cancers and other diseases. Killing them is harmful for
human body,” says microbiologist Dr N Surya Prakash.

Microbiota co-inhabiting human beings regulate the immune system and
prevent people from allergies and immune deregulation, warn
researchers. Daily shaving, shampooing, scrubbing with antibacterial
soaps, gargle with spirited mouthwashes and then spraying denat- and
brut-based deodorants have devastating impact on the body surface
microbiota, points out a senior researcher from the University of

According to a research study, exposure to microbes during early
childhood is associated with protection from immune-mediated diseases
such as inflammatory bowel disease and asthma. Experiments in
germ-free mice showed invariant natural killer T cells accumulate in
the mucus membrane of intestines and lung, resulting in increased
morbidity of inflammatory bowel disease and allergic asthma.

Another study suggests that microbes furnish some of their benefits in
an unexpected way. Researchers have found that the typical intestinal
bacteria in mice rein in a rare type of immune cell, curtailing asthma
and colitis in the rodents.

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