Other people's flatulence 'may be good for you'

A woman holds her nose

A chemical found in expelled gas could help the body fight a range of diseases

LAST UPDATED AT 09:53 ON Fri 11 Jul 2014

Whisper it quietly, but other people's flatulence could be good for your health. That is the conclusion drawn by scientists who are describing a core component of wind as a "healthcare hero".

University of Exeter researchers have discovered that hydrogen sulphide, which is a key and unpopular ingredient of flatulence, offers health benefits that could protect against diabetes, strokes, heart attacks and even dementia.

The chemical is toxic in large doses, but in smaller amounts it helps protect cells' mitochondria, a vital component in fighting a range of illnesses. Scientists have isolated a new compound named AP39, which helps the body to produce the amount of hydrogen sulphide it needs.

Professor Matt Whiteman tells The Times: "When cells become stressed by disease, they draw in enzymes to generate minute quantities of hydrogen sulphide. This keeps the mitochondria ticking over and allows cells to live. If this doesn't happen, the cells die."

Although very few people welcome the wind of others, Whiteman's fellow researcher Dr Mark Wood says that hydrogen sulphide could yet turn out to be a "healthcare hero with significant implications for future therapies for a variety of diseases."

The study was published in the journal Medicinal Chemistry Communications. · 

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