Hygiene Hypothesis – Fact or Fiction?

The hygiene hypothesis is a theory that living in excessively clean environments prevents your body from building up immunity and makes you more susceptible to allergies and other ailments. The evidence for hygiene hypothesis continues to grow, with most examples being associated with ailments and diseases under the autoimmune and immunological classification that have ballooned in tandem with our increasingly sterile habits here in the U.S.


One strong piece of evidence in favor of the hygiene hypothesis is the way that developed countries have seen a much larger increase in asthma and allergies than less-developed nations. It is a great irony that the use of antibiotics and hypoallergenic products designed to boost health could actually be contributing to some aspects of declining health.

On-going studies are beginning to show that people who are exposed early in their childhood to microbes in their surroundings have lowered instances of allergies and some immunological and autoimmune diseases. On the other hand, results have shown that when childhood exposure to microbes is absent, there is an increased possibility of developing these diseases. Compelling research has pointed specifically to families without dishwashers as well as families from more rural areas having lower rates of allergy.

More research should continue to show that our powerful detergents, germ-resistant medications, and hand sanitizers may have their downsides.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.