March 11, 2015

Can Smelling Farts and Bad Breath Reduce Risk of Cancer and Other Illnesses

Initially, I thought this was a hoax... But upon further investigation, did have support in the scientific literature, though actual human health benefits may be stretching the conclusions a bit far.

The idea that smelling farts or bad breath may have human health benefits is based on a research paper called "The synthesis and functional evaluation of a mitochondria-targeted hydrogen sulfide donor, (10-oxo-10-(4-(3-thioxo-3H-1,2-dithiol-5-yl)phenoxy)decyl)triphenylphosphonium bromide (AP39)" that was published in 2014 in the journal MedChemComm.

In spite of its lofty title, the basic conclusion was that hydrogen sulfide (H2S) found in farts, bad breath, rotten eggs, etc can prevent cellular death by its protective effects on the mitochondria. Although the gas is noxious in large doses, scientists found that cellular exposure to smaller amounts of the compound may prevent mitochondrial damage thereby implying the possible future prevention of strokes, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, and other disease conditions where cell death is present.

But to make the leap that hydrogen sulfide exposure at the cellular level to health benefits from actually smelling farts is a quantum stretch and unlikely to work.

But if true, given large doses cause cell death, than it would appear that too much fart smelling would kill a person.

A Stinky Compound May Protect Against Cell Damage, Study Finds. 7/11/14

The synthesis and functional evaluation of a mitochondria-targeted hydrogen sulfide donor, (10-oxo-10-(4-(3-thioxo-3H-1,2-dithiol-5-yl)phenoxy)decyl)triphenylphosphonium bromide (AP39). Med. Chem. Commun., 2014,5, 728-736 DOI: 10.1039/C3MD00323J Received 26 Oct 2013, Accepted 05 Apr 2014, First published online 07 Apr 2014
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Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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