Germ and Bacteria Hot-Spots: 12 Things You Should Know
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Germs: Dangerous or Not?
Startling reports about germs seem to spread faster than the little buggers themselves these days. Your desk is dirtier than a toilet bowl! Your bathroom is cleaner than your desk! But are the millions of germs we're exposed to daily dangerous -- or just disgusting?
"Most of the germs we encounter don't come from inanimate objects. Door handles, phones, money, and ATM machines are not a major source of illness," says Elaine Larson, PhD, a professor of pharmaceutical and therapeutic research at Columbia University School of Nursing. Avoiding infection is fairly easy. Basic hygiene (read: washing your hands before eating and after going to the bathroom) gets rid of most bacteria. Those who have to take greater precautions include the elderly and anyone with a suppressed immune system. Plus, you don't want to go overboard with the antigerm activity: There are lots of "good" bacteria out there that help keep the "bad" germs away. "The helpful microorganisms overwhelmingly outnumber the harmful ones," says Jack Brown, PhD, a professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Kansas at Lawrence. "Removing a large proportion of the good bacteria gives the bad germs a chance to increase and potentially become harmful."
So what do you need to worry about? We investigated the following 12 germy claims to find out what's true, what's false, and what you really need to do to stay clean and healthy.
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