Skip the Shower: Good Skin Bacteria Can Protect You Against Skin Cancer, Says Study

Skip the Shower: Good Skin Bacteria Can Protect You Against Skin Cancer, Says Study

Been a while since you had a bath? You may be doing yourself a favor, even if the noses of your friends and family don’t really agree.

A study published in Science Advances on February 28 by researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, describes how it all works. And how skipping the soap could save your life.

To come to their findings, researchers exposed mice to damaging ultraviolet rays. Those rodents who had certain bacteria on their skin avoided developing cancerous tumors, while those without it sadly went on to develop skin cancer.

“We have identified a strain of Staphylococcus epidermidis, common on healthy human skin, that exerts a selective ability to inhibit the growth of some cancers,” said Richard Gallo, MD, PhD, Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Dermatology at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

“This unique strain of skin bacteria produces a chemical that kills several types of cancer cells but does not appear to be toxic to normal cells.”

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“There is increasing evidence that the skin microbiome is an important element of human health,” he added. “In fact, we previously reported that some bacteria on our skin produce antimicrobial peptides that defend against pathogenic bacteria such as, Staph aureus.”

Skin cancer is deadly and becoming more and more common. More than 1 million cases are diagnosed in the United States each year, and over 95 percent of these are caused by an overexposure to the sun.

Photo credits: sdecoret/

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