Science Proves We Are All Pig-Pen, Covered in 6 Pounds of Microbes

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June 14 2012 11:29 PM

Science Proves We Are All Pig-Pen, Covered in 6 Pounds of Microbes

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Under the microscope, humans are actually very, very dirty. But it's a good thing--the six pounds of microbes we all carry around fight diseases.

Photo by STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

Today we are all Pig-pen.

Researchers have mapped a teeming world of over 10,000 microbes in and on the human body so vast it can account for up to six pounds of your total weight. But don’t run to the shower just yet—these tiny germs may just be keeping us alive and healthy. 

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In research funded by the National Institute Of Health, the Human Microbiiome Project studied bacteria throughout the whole human body. What they found? These hitchhikers lead a complex everyday coexistence with each other and us, with benign bacteria keeping pathogenic germs—those that cause human illness—at bay. Different types can do the same important sickness-fighting tasks, so it doesn't matter if you live in Arizona or Alaska, eat Tacos or Tofu.

Scientists hope further research could lead to new innovations in the diagnosis and prevention of infectious diseases. So take a bug to lunch today. Oh, that's right. You will.

Video by Paca Thomas.

Ben Johnson is the producer of Marketplace Tech from American Public Media.

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