LISTEN LIVE: All Things Considered
LISTEN LIVE: All Things Considered


'Why Am I Still Sick?' New Documentary Explores The Biofilm Question

This article is more than 8 years old.

Never heard of communities of bacteria called biofilms? You have a lot of company. But do you know someone, or are you someone, who just can't seem to get shed of one mysterious ailment after another, odd constellations of symptoms and infections that just never seem to go completely away?

Film producer Richard Longland argues that we should connect those dots, that biofilms are sickening and even killing many Americans, in a new film called "Why Am I Still Sick?" It will be partially screened tonight at a free Northeastern conference titled "Innovations in Human Health: The Biofilm Question." Details here.

What are biofilms? From the conference page:

During the last thirty years, medical researchers have identified startling new facts of how bacteria survive in nature, man and beast. We humans depend on biofilm communities, the predominant microbiological life form, but they sometimes work against us by contributing to chronic disease. So how do we keep these life forms in check when they cause chronic wounds? Periodontal infections? Hospital infections?

I heard about the film from Kat Tatlock, who directed the cancer film we featured at a CommonHealth screening last year, "Outside In," and contributed to this one as well. Some of the film's claims — that biofilms could be costing America $100 billion annually, for example — trigger my skeptic's alarm bells; but it's clear from the experts quoted in the film, scientists at institutions like MIT and the University of Massachusetts, that biofilms — communities of bacteria — are a well-documented phenomenon, and a potentially frightening one.

This program aired on January 30, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.