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    Debunking the Top 5 Myths of Being "Too Clean"

    By Lisa Barger     

    Proponents of the so-called "hygiene hypothesis" claim that Americans are unknowingly risking their health through the use of antibacterial products, fastidious housekeeping and obsessive personal hygiene.  But many of their most common arguments are based on half-truths and questionable science.  Let's debunk 5 of the common myths of being "too clean".

    Myth: Americans are obsessed with being too clean.
    Fact: A 2004 study done for the CDC found that a full 30% of all adults don't even wash their hands after using the toilet. It's clear that millions of Americans aren't worried about being "too clean".

    Myth: Keeping our homes too clean is causing an increase in asthma and allergies in children.
    Fact: Childhood asthma is rising but it's rising disproportionately. If personal hygiene and fastidious housekeeping was really causing asthma, we would be seeing asthma in children of all backgrounds. Instead, asthma is increasing in impoverished inner city neighborhoods where pollution levels tend to be quite high and pest infestations are more common.

    Myth: Lack of bacterial exposure has been linked to childhood asthma.
    Fact: A 2001 Finnish study found that giving expectant mothers a type of "good" bacteria, Lactobacillus BC, dramatically lowered their babies' chances of developing hay fever, asthma and eczema.  But it's important to note that Lactobacillus, which lives naturally in the human digestive tract, has long been recognized as an important part of a healthy immune system.  There's still no evidence that purposely exposing children to potentially harmful pathogens, like those that cause cold and flu infections, does anything beneficial.

    Myth: Overuse of soaps will lead to "super bugs".
    Fact: Plain soap doesn't actually kill germs. Soap, along with the mechanical action of washing your hands, simply dislodges pathogens so they can be flushed away under running water. Antibacterial soaps, which do kill some types of germs, have, at least in theory, the ability to create resistant strains of harmful bacteria but there's absolutely no proof that this is actually happening.

    Myth: Handwashing damages your skin and allows bacteria to flourish.
    Fact: Aggressively scrubbing your hands several times throughout the day can damage your skin but unless you're a doctor or nurse preparing for surgery, you're probably not washing your hands with a bristle brush several times every day. Regular handwashing with plain soap will not damage you skin in this way.

    Written by Lisa BargerRate this article:

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