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Human Body Temperatures Dropped Over The Past 150 Years

One of the earliest scientific facts that I learned when I was a child was the normal body temperature, which is 98.6°F (or 37°C). A new study in eLife, however, seems to show that this number is outdated.

The figure was probably accurate in 1851, when German doctor Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich found it to be the average armpit temperature of 25,000 patients. Times have changed, though, according to the recent paper: the average American now seems to run more than a degree F lower.
Stanford University researchers looked at data from Civil War soldiers and veterans and two more recent cohorts to confirm that body temperatures among American men averaged around 98.6 degrees F back then but have steadily fallen over time and that temperatures among women have fallen as well. Their data find an average for men and women of 97.5 degrees F.

Senior author Julie Parsonnet states that the research suggests that in the process of altering our surroundings, we have also altered ourselves. She states that ““We’ve changed in height, weight—and we’re colder.”

More details about this over at Scientific American.

(Image Credit: Pixabay)


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