Want To Live Longer? Grow A Beard

Beards are good for your health, the results from a new study suggest.

An experiment conducted by University College of London’s professor and microbiologist Dr. Adam Roberts has shown that beards carry bacteria that have antibiotic properties. So whoever said that beards are unhealthy did not have their science sorted out!

Contrary to age-old beliefs and a general consensus (among men, and women!) that beards are breeding places for harmful bacteria, Dr. Roberts has proved that most of the bacteria found in beards in fact have antibiotic properties which may help fight diseases with efficiency. For the experiment, beard swabs of different men were put to the test, according to Tech Times, and the results were absolutely astounding.

Dr. Roberts found out that, of the 100 different bacterial growths discovered in the specimens, many were in fact capable of killing other harmful microbes.

One microbe in particular fascinated Dr. Roberts. When the professor isolated the microbe and tested it against a type of Escherichia coli that causes urinary tract infections, he found that the microbes were killing the bacterium with greater efficiency than he could have possibly imagined.

The silent assassins, Dr. Roberts notes, are part of a species called Staphylococcus epidermidis.

A significant breakthrough in our understanding of our own facial hair, the study greatly contradicts the notion that beards are unhygienic factories for the production of harmful microbes and bacteria. In a beard, for example, different bacteria and fungi actually compete against each other for food and space, helping develop some of the greatest weapons against their fellow microbes: antibiotics.

This is how Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, as he noticed that a fungus spore, which had accidentally blown into his lab from fellow researchers working nearby, had killed some bacteria he was growing on a petri dish.

Even more interestingly, when clean-shaven men were put to the test to see if their faces produced any of the same microbes in another study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, more surprising news was in store for the researchers.

According to the study, beardless men were three times as likely to be harboring a species known as methicillin-resistant staph aureus (MSRA) on their freshly shaven cheeks. To put it into context, MRSA is a common source of hospital-acquired infections because it is resistant to so many of our current antibiotics, reports the BBC.

So how is it possible that clean-shaven men may be harboring more harmful bacteria than bearded men? Researchers believe that shaving might cause micro-abrasions in the skin “which may support bacterial colonization and proliferation.”

The study could go a long way in denouncing the contemporary myth that beards are not good for one’s health. Till the 1700s, beards were considered a sign of masculinity in most parts of the world, but with the advent of the razor in 1770, men were driven towards sporting a clean-shaven look.

Now, however, beards seem to be back in fashion, may it be the chin-strap, the goatee, the neck beard, or the Van Dyke. And with the latest study proving that beards may in fact be good for our health and produce microbes which fight off diseases, beard-related studies may be granted greater funding in the future.

In any case, one thing appears to be certain as a result of the two studies mentioned above: beards do not only make you look cool, they are also going to help you live longer. So start growing today!

[Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images]