Study: Beards Increase Resistance to Hospital Infections

Would you like to avoid dying a horrible death from an infection while staying in the hospital? Then you'd better grow a beard. According to a study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, men with beards are less likely to develop Staphylococcus aureus infections. Men who shave expose themselves to needless danger by cutting themselves, thus increasingly the likelihood of infections. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

The study examined the faces of 408 healthcare workers, with and without facial hair.

While the results were overwhelmingly similar for bearded and non-bearded healthcare workers (bacteria colonisation was, on the whole, low), where there was a difference between the two groups, the bacteria species were more likely to be found in men without facial hair.

But there's more! Your beard, which is a greenhouse for microorganisms (or very large organisms, if you don't clean it), could be used to develop new types of antibiotics. The bearded Michael Mosley of the BBC talked to Dr. Adam Roberts, a microbiologist:

Adam managed to grow over 100 different bacteria from our beards, including one that is more commonly found in the small intestine. But, as he quickly explains, that doesn't mean it came from faeces. Such findings are normal and nothing to worry about. […]

Penicillin was originally extracted from Penicillium notatum, a species of fungus. The microbe-killing properties of this fungus were discovered by Alexander Fleming when he noticed that a fungus spore, which had accidently blown into his lab from researchers further down the corridor, had killed some bacteria he was growing on a petri dish.

So could our mysterious microbes be doing something similar? Killing fellow bacteria by producing some sort of toxin?

Dr. Roberts is absolutely certain that this development is inevitable:

"Yes," says Adam extremely cautiously. "Possibly."

-via Jonah Goldberg


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