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Your Inner Ecosystem45:22
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Trillions of bacteria live in our bodies.  They outnumber our human cells, 10 to 1.  So who’s in charge?  What are we?

Bacteria under a microscope.
Bacteria under a microscope.

Maybe you thought your body was a noble castle poised against the onslaughts and invasions of the world.  Well, think again.  It turns out, we are the world.  Our bodies are loaded with a jungle of microbial life, inside and out, that is essential to healthy life.

New science has found ten times as many bacteria cells as human cells in and on the human body.  A load of microbes that work with us from the moment of birth in all kinds of key ways.  Killing them off, avoiding them, may make us sick.  Make us fat.

This hour, On Point:  Microbes are us.  The amazing full ecology of the human body.
-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Jennifer Ackerman, a writer for Scientific American, she's also the author of Ah-Choo! The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold; Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream. Here recent cover story for Scientific American is here.

Martin Blaser, chair of the Department of Medicine and professor of microbiology at the New York University School of Medicine.  He's also the funder of the Foundation for Bacteriology and the Virtual Museum of Bacteria.

Bernat Olle, principal at PureTech Ventures, a venture firm focused on the creation of life science companies.

From Tom's Reading List

Scientific American "Biologists once thought that human beings were phys­iological islands, entirely capable of regulating their own internal workings. Our bodies made all the enzymes needed for breaking down food and using its nutrients to power and repair our tissues and organs. Signals from our own tissues dictated body states such as hunger or satiety. "

Los Angeles Times "It gives scientists a reference point of what the microbial community looks like in healthy people, and they plan to use it to study how changes in a person's microbiome can lead to illness."

The New York Times "For a century, doctors have waged war against bacteria, using antibiotics as their weapons. But that relationship is changing as scientists become more familiar with the 100 trillion microbes that call us home — collectively known as the microbiome."

This program aired on June 20, 2012.

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