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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Women's Hands Home to More Types of Germs

Based on a just released study from the University of Colorado, which found women's hands have a veritable United Nations of germs compared to men's, it comes as no surprise that women represent 75% of the close to $100 million in US hand sanitizer product sales.

But more interesting: both genders house vastly more bacteria on their palms than previously suspected, according to the study which appears in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

On average, each hand studied was home to about 150 different species of bacteria. Overall, more than 4,700 bacterial species were identified on all hands, only five of which were common among all volunteers.

Of perhaps the most interesting finding: In general, hand washing did not seem to affect the diversity of bacteria (though it's still a good practice, the researchers stressed). Either the bacteria come back quickly after hand washing (at least the kind of hand washing practiced by these volunteers) or hand washing just doesn't dislodge bacteria, they said.

Another good reason to research hand sanitizer products, and to understand the distinctions between the flammable gels formulated with alcohol, vs those with organic compounds that are intended to protect skin cells, while providing extended persistency in the course of defending against germs and bacteria.

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