Roundworms are often mistaken to cause more harm than any good. Scientists in several studies have reported a protein secreted by roundworm that is capable of suppressing inflammation and people infected with worms usually benefit from reduced inflammation if they suffer from conditions such as allergies and autoimmune diseases.
By looking at the exposure to the parasitic roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides/suum in Nothern Europe (Norway, Denmark and Estonia), the study finds that younger men exposed to Ascaris had a striking reduction in lung function and nearly five times higher odds of having asthma compared to the non-exposed. These effects were independent of smoking and other exposures such as house dust mites.
The paper «Ascaris exposure associated with lung function, asthma and DNA-methylation in Northern-Europe» was just published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
The study is a collaboration between the University of Bergen, Tartu University Hospital Lung Clinic, University of Aarhus, the University of Birmingham and the University of Cape Town.
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