Low exposure to rural microbes raises risk of asthma, allergies
People who live in urban areas may be more at risk of asthma and allergies, due to lower exposure to “healthy microbes” found in rural settings, according to new research.
A team of researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder aimed to find an explanation for previous studies that have determined that people of lower socioeconomic status are more prone to asthma, allergies and other inflammatory disorders. The Colorado researchers focused on the effect of certain microbes and infections—particularly those that have existed for many years—and found that they have an anti-inflammatory effect and can suppress the kind of inflammation that can cause asthma and allergies.
The findings, published in the journal Clinical & Experimental Immunology, showed that while the beneficial anti-inflammatory microbes exist today in rural areas, they are largely absent in most developed areas. Because people of lower socioeconomic status typically live in urban areas, they are less exposed to the rural microbes and therefore are more prone to inflammatory diseases, researchers said.
The scientists concluded that because it's not realistic to expect people in cities to increase their exposure to rural microbes, they should instead focus on reducing their exposure to modern diseases by paying close attention to hygiene issues.