Magazine article Science News


Magazine article Science News


Article excerpt

Tea and an apple chestnut

"Tea time for T cells" (SN: 8/21/99, p. 127) mentioned that alkylamines from teas, wines, and apples stimulate T cells. The scientists are launching a study to examine whether tea stimulates the activity of the gamma-delta T cells to bolster overall immunity. Who knows, they may even verify that an apple a day keeps the doctor away!

Don G. Beattie Commerce, Mich.

Dirty secrets?

The article "Modern hygiene's dirty tricks" (SN: 8/14/99, p. 108) reports that hay fever is less common among farm children than among urban children or rural children who don't live on farms. I wonder if the results are not skewed by "survival of the fittest." Wouldn't sufferers of hay fever (including their progeny with similar genetic dispositions) seek relief in nonfarm areas? People not affected by the scourge (and their progeny) probably continued to find survivable conditions in farmland areas. I, myself a sufferer of hay fever, seek to avoid farmlands at all costs.

Richard V. DeGruccio Elk Grove, Calif.

I suggest that our immune systems, like our muscles, need to be exercised to be effective. Though this is anecdotal, I've noticed that when I've been a farmer, I have had far less sickness than when I've lived in town.

Jim Adams Louisa, Va.

Basing the hygiene hypothesis on the observation that cleaner societies (i.e., industrialized countries) have higher asthma rates raises some questions. In particular, within a single industrialized country, the United States, asthma rates are far higher in poor communities. …

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