Sunday, August 31, 2008
Careful with that Axe, Eugene
An article in last week's Economist definitively answers the question,
"Is it ever appropriate to completely wipe out a parasitic species that seems to have no positive role in the food chain?" It's happening with Helicobacter Pylori, the infamous cause of stomach ulcer and gastric cancer. Now that less than 5 percent of U.S. children have H. pylori, scientists are discovering the endangered bacterium just might do a few good things. Since it seems to regulate stomach acid, its absence is causing more reflux syndromes and esophogeal cancers. Since kids use H. pylori as a priming agent for beefing up the immune system, its absence is causing more asthma. As with the hidden hazards of using germicidal soaps, the law of unintended consequences applies big time. No doubt the same could be said for mosquitoes, ticks, and homo sapiens...