Sunday, March 8, 2020

Cool Down! Well, We Are.

Environmental & Science Education
Nature of Science
Edward Hessler

We've cooled off. A bit.

Our normal body temperature of 98.6 F (37 C) has decreased to 97.8 F (36.6 C). 

This new estimate is reported on by Ewen Callaway  n the British science journal Nature and is based on research "led by Julie Parsonnet, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Stanford University (CA)."

The 37 C figure was determined by German physician Carl 1851. The Parsonnet team "looked at three data sets--900 temperatures taken between 1862 and 1930 from American Civil War veterans, and hundred of thousands of measurements collected in the 1970s and between 2007 and 2017. ... Overall, temperatures dropped by 0.03 C per decade."

Parsonnet suggests that the cause is "lower rates of long-term infections, "which can elevate body temperatures." Epidemiologist Jill Waalen of the Scripps Research Translational Institute (La Jolla, CA) who was not involved in the research finds the research "'intriguing and plausible'" but notes that "none of the measurements the researchers used came from the period beginning in the 1940s, when antibiotics were widely introduced." If there was "a marked drop in body temperatures at this time," this "would support Parsonnet's" hypothesis.

See Callaway for more information, a link to the original research paper, and a graph of the data (black men/women and white men/women).

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