This refers to “Environment is cleaner, your immune system has never been prepared” (March 17). Experts agree autoimmune disease affects millions of people with a cost of more than $100 billion. Improvements in hygiene and sanitation though welcome have inadvertently given to an alarming increase to human-made auto-immune diseases. It is suspected that this is partly attributable to our lack of exposure to micro-organisms that we once had. Potentially pathogenic and benign micro-organisms associated with dirt once covered all aspects of our earlier lifestyle and ensured an alert immune system. Our immune system needs a level of stimulation early in life to prevent the current rise in autoimmune disease.
Apparently, a little dirt is good for us and our immune system needs this exposure. Like so much of modern life, there seems to be a tipping point when clean is “too clean”. Excessive cleanliness is not good and antibacterial agents such as triclosan have been banned in many daily use products such as soaps and toothpastes as they cause more harm and diminish our immunity. A recent development in medicine is faecal transplant for people who suffer from excessive bouts of diarrhoea due to difficult to treat clostridioides difficile infection. A stool transplant from a healthy donor aims to repopulate the patient’s gut with good microbes. Another exciting development in medicine is harnessing the immune system to fight cancer. A long-held medical dream is likely to become a reality.
H N Ramakrishna Bengaluru
Letters can be mailed, faxed or e-mailed to:
The Editor, Business Standard
Nehru House, 4 Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg
New Delhi 110 002
Fax: (011) 23720201 · E-mail: email@example.com
All letters must have a postal address and telephone number