AUG 10, 2016 12:13 PM PDT

Your Long-Term Relationship with Microbes

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

The world of the microbiome is enjoying a well-deserved spotlight in the recent past. Just a few weeks ago, scientists found a unique collection of bacteria living in breast tissue, in addition to those that colonize in milk from the mammary glands. Most recently, Ed Yong's new book, I Contain Multitudes, is also renewing the public's attention to these microorganisms.

The microbiome is a specialized collection of bacteria residing in the human body. Mostly famous for their existence in the human gut, these communities of microorganisms have been known to influence processes like digestion and immune responses. But in addition to finding more microbes inside us, scientists are discovering that these seemingly invisible organisms can influence our health. For example, microbes living in the male reproductive tracts are linked to prostate cancers, whereas the oral microbiome may increase pancreatic cancer risks.

Of course, not all the microbes are bad for us. It turns out that we need them just as much as they need us - without microbes, we probably wouldn't survive for very long. Watch the video to learn more on the invisible creatures that keep us alive!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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