April 27, 2017

Is Eating Your Boogers Really Good for You?

On 4/26/17, a variety of media sources reported that a scientific study claimed that eating your own boogers is healthy for you. Given the sensational headlines and pertinent ENT topic, I decided to investigate this claim further and actually read the study that was quoted as the scientific source.

To preface, NOWHERE in the quoted research study was the claim made that one should eat, chew, or ingest any nasal secretions, boogers, snot-rockets, or any other nasal secretions whether wet or dried up crusties to prevent infections.

What the research paper DID report was that biologic "mucus" DOES have health benefits in preventing bacteria from potentially causing cavities.

Rather than killing bacteria, the mucus acts as a physical barrier to prevent bacteria from attaching and harming the dental enamel. Similarly, it is felt that such mucus barriers may help prevent germs from causing infectious diseases in the gastrointestinal and respiratory tract.

The scientific study conducted at MIT, focused on the mucus protein MUC5B which is principally produced by the salivary (spit) glands, namely the submandibular and sublingual glands. NOT the nose.

To reiterate, NOWHERE in the study was the claim made that nasal secretions produced this mucus protein and as such, one should eat nasal boogers to prevent infections.

It seems somebody saw the word "mucus" in this fairly dense research paper and erroneously equated that to "snot" which people can mistakenly assume is only produced in the nose... aka, boogers.

Just goes to show how good, legitimate scientific papers can be twisted and distorted totally out of context into sensational and incorrect conclusions that make good scientists and their work look ridiculous and demean what it means to be an expert who is trying to do some real good.

You can read the full research paper here. What do you think? Did the media accurately interpret this paper? Read some media articles here.

Salivary mucins protect surfaces from colonization by cariogenic bacteria. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2015 Jan;81(1):332-8. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02573-14. Epub 2014 Oct 24.

Fauquier blog
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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