Several new studies validate the notion that living in hermetically sealed, antiseptic environments makes us more susceptible to allergies while living in environments closer to nature makes us more allergy-free.
According to research presented at the 2012 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in June, people who share their homes with dogs are less at risk of developing asthma than are people who don’t live with dogs.
The key reason is dust.
Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco fed one group of mice dust that had been gathered in homes where dogs lived. Another group of mice ate no such dust. Both groups were then infected with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), an infectious agent commonly associated with the development of asthma in children.
The dust-eating group displayed no RSV symptoms; eating the dust “protected” them against RSV―and thus asthma, the researchers concluded.
“Identification of the specific species and mechanisms underlying this protective effect represents a crucial step towards understanding the critical role of microbes in defining allergic disease outcomes and developing novel therapeutic strategies to combat childhood respiratory infections and asthma development,” wrote lead UCSF investigator Kei Fujimura.