Why sneezing is good for you

“Allergies may have emerged to protect us from environmental toxins,” according to the  Scientific American, July 2012. “Most experts,” explains author, Melinda Wenner Moyer, “consider allergies to be misdirected immune reactions to innocuous substances such as pollen or peanuts. A handful of researchers, however, now propose a fundamentally different theory of allergies: that runny noses, coughs and itchy rashes may have evolved to protect us from toxic chemicals, like snake venom, in our environment and in the food we eat.”

“Ruslan Medzhitov, an immunobiologist at Yale University, has never accepted the idea of allergies as rogue soldiers from the body’s parasite-fighting army. Parasites and the substances that trigger allergies, called allergens, ‘share nothing in common,’ he says. First, there are an almost unlimited number of allergens. Second, allergic responses can be extremely fast – on the scale of seconds – and ‘a response to parasites doesn’t have to be that fast.’ / In a paper published in April in Nature, Medzhitov and his colleagues argue that allergies came about to protect us from potentially toxic substances in the environment or in food. ‘How do you defend against something you inhale that you don’t want? You make mucus. You make a runny nose, you sneeze, you cough. Or if it’s on your skin, by inducing itching, you avoid it or you try to remove it by scratching it,’ he explains. Likewise, if you ingest something allergenic, your body might react with vomiting.”

Ref: Melinda Wenner Moyer (2012) Why Sneezing is good for you. Scientific American, July: p.10

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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