Major new study finds raising children in too clean homes could trigger leukemia
If you have taken a walk down the cleaning aisle at your local supermarket lately, you cannot have failed to notice just how crazy obsessed we have become with keeping everything around us ultra clean and bacteria-free these days.
Seriously; there are now dedicated sprays and wipes for pretty much any room and item in your home – and then some.
Medical experts have been warning us for a while now, how this obsession with products that promise to "kill 99 percent of all bacteria" are nothing but bad news – but we are clearly not listening. Why are they bad, you ask. Are bacteria not something we must fight against at all costs – surely that's what the cleaning product aisle is telling us anyway?
No. We need bacteria, guys. We need a bit of good aul' dirt and grime too, because without it, our immune systems just can't keep up. Without being exposed to germs and dirt and bacteria, our immune system, which is in place to protect us from more serious bacteria and viruses and illnesses, gets weakened and won't be able to kick into action when we need it to.
And now a major new review has warned yet again how being in environments that are too clean and sterile can be harmful to our health, with andmark study suggesting that keeping children cocooned in ultra-clean homes, away from other youngsters, could, in fact, trigger childhood leukaemia
The new analysis by Britain’s leading leukaemia expert has concluded a deadly chain of events is set in motion when susceptible children are not exposed to enough bugs to prime their immune system at an early age.
What the researchers found, was that without sufficient immunity, if vulnerable youngsters catch even a relatively harmless virus like flu, the immune system malfunctions creating far more infection-fighting white blood cells than needed, causing leukaemia.
The study, which compiled 30 years of research into the cancer, raises the prospect that Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) could become a preventable disease, which charities said was ‘enormously exciting.’
Simple steps such as allowing children to attend a day nursery so they come into contact with germ-laden youngsters, breastfeeding, outdoor play and not overly cleaning the house could all help boost immunity, the study suggests.
This is what Professor Mel Greaves of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, had to say about the gorundbreaking results:
“The research strongly suggests that ALL has a clear biological cause, and is triggered by a variety of infections in predisposed children whose immune systems have not been properly primed. The most important implication is that most cases of childhood leukaemia are likely to be preventable. It might be done in the same way that is currently under consideration for autoimmune disease or allergies – perhaps with simple and safe interventions to expose infants to a variety of common and harmless bugs."
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is the most common type of childhood cancer, affecting more than 600 children each year in Britain, and in advanced, affluent societies it is increasing in incidence at around one per cent per year.
Greaves suggests that the disease might be preventable if a child's immune system is properly ‘primed’ in the first year of life – potentially sparing children the trauma and life-long consequences of chemotherapy.
The study, which was published in the journal Nature Reviews Cancer, also rules out possible environmental causes, such as ionising radiation, electricity cables, electromagnetic waves or man-made chemicals.