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It Takes a Genome: How a Clash Between Our Genes and Modern Life Is Making Us Sick by Greg Gibson

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The Hygiene Hypothesis

Of course, it would be better if we could prevent kids from being exposed to the allergens and toxins that are setting off asthma in the first place. Imagine a world without cigarette smoke and diesel fumes for breakfast, and we’re probably halfway there. Yet according to an increasing body of thought, that same imagining of a world less prone to inflammatory disease would also encourage us to expose our toddlers to all sorts of viruses and bacteria, and to deliberately infect sensitive adults with intestinal hookworms.

The essence of this idea is embodied in “the hygiene hypothesis.” First proposed by a British physician, David Strachan, in 1989, the hygiene hypothesis suggests that a large part of the increase in allergic ...

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