9/3/2013 6:53:49 AM
If the idea of hookworms makes you shudder, consider this: Those pesky intestinal parasites may actually help your body ward off other infections, and perhaps even prevent autoimmune and other diseases. Studying members of the Tsimane, an indigenous population in the lowlands of Central Bolivia, UC Santa Barbara anthropologists Aaron Blackwell and Michael Gurven found that individuals infected by helminths –– parasitic worms –– were less likely than their counterparts to suffer from giardia, an intestinal malady caused by a flagellated protozoa. Similarly, those with giardia tended to be less infected by helminths. The researchers’ findings appear in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
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