You can tell it must have been a very slow news day when you started seeing headlines like Sniffing Farts Could Prevent Cancer, Claim Scientists! Or the incredible Smelling Flatulence May Help You Live Longer! It’s the kind of “pass the gas” news that gets passed around the Internet before anyone looks into the smelly details.
The fact is, scientists didn’t connect farts to better (or worse) health at all. Unfortunately, news outlets got hold of a media release from the University of Exeter – titled Rotten Egg Gas Holds Key To Healthcare Therapies – and made their own hasty and wrong fart conclusions.
What the media release DID say was “Although hydrogen sulfide is well known as a pungent, foul-smelling gas in rotten eggs and flatulence, it is naturally produced in the body and could in fact be a healthcare hero with significant implications for future therapies for a variety of diseases,” said Dr. Mark Wood of the Biosciences Department at the University, based in the United Kingdom.
This information was based on an article in Medicinal Chemistry Communications. That article looked into the development of AP39; a compound that delivered tiny amounts of hydrogen sulfide to mitochondria. At no time did they ask people to inhale farts. Flatulence and breathing had nothing to do with the experiments or the original article.
Here’s why the experiment took place. Mitochondria use very small amounts of hydrogen sulfide to keep going when stressed by disease. As quoted by Professor Matt Whiteman of the University of Exeter Medical School, “if this doesn’t happen, the cells die and lose the ability to regulate survival and control inflammation.”
The results of the test indicated that AP39 treatment of stressed mitochondria protected them and kept cells alive.
You cannot inhale farts and get hydrogen sulfide to the mitochondria, and you will not see disease treatment rooms full of flatulence-producing medical personnel passing gas for your benefit.