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Women Have More Hand Bacteria On Their Palms Than Men

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Tuesday, November 04, 2008 12:13 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Protecting Your Family, Bacteria, Antibacterials, Hand Washing, Disinfectants, Healthy Living, Women's Health

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IMAGE SOURCE:© iStockPhoto / woman washing hands / author: christianpound

A newly released study by University of Colorado researchers found, not only do human hands harbor far greater numbers of bacteria species than previously believed, but women have a significantly higher amount of bacteria on their palms than that of men.

Germs and bacteria are everywhere, whether you can see them or not – whether you like it or not.

“The wide ranging differences seen between individuals and also between two hands from the same person is nothing short of amazing,” said University of Colorado biochemistry assistant professor Rob Knight, study co-author.

“The vast amounts and differences of bacteria found on the hands of study participants was quite unexpected, as was the even greater diverseness of bacteria detected on the hands of women,” said lead researcher Noah Fierer, an assistant professor in Colorado’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology.

Researchers are unsure why women generally harbored a wider variety of bacteria than men, but Fierer suggests it may be because men generally have more acidic skin than that of women.

Other possibilities might include differences in sweat and oil gland production between women and men, the abundance of cosmetics and moisturizer applications, and hormone production, he said.

For the study, samples were taken from the palms of 51 college students – 102 hands total. Researchers used a new system for detecting bacteria DNA to test the samples.

In total, researchers identified 4,742 species of bacteria, of which only five were present on every hand tested. An average of 150 types of bacteria was detected on each hand.

The study found that individuals have very few bacteria’s in common, but also the left and right hand of the same individual shared only 17 percent of the same bacteria’s.

Washing hands regularly with anti-bacterial soap, while beneficial, does not always eliminate bacteria entirely. “Washing does not remove all of the bacteria found on the skin surface or the bacteria's that quickly re-form after hand washing, researchers said.

InjuryBoard recently wrote another story about some germy surfaces your cleaning supplies will get happy to get acquainted with. You may never have realized some of the worse germ offenders, while others may seem quite obvious. #


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