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Is Eating Boogers Good For You? Canadian Researcher Wants To Find Out

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Apr 25, 2013 12:06 PM EDT
Nose Picking
A man picking his nose. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

A Canadian biochemist is trying to launch a study that will pick at the potential health benefits of muchophagy, the concise term for picking one's nose and eating the dried mucus that comes out.

Scott Napper, of the University of Saskatchewan, wants to study whether consuming mucous --  or, more bluntly, eating your boogers - can help train the body's immune system by exposing it to the germs the mucous contains. It's an old theory, but he hopes a tactic he devised to administer the study will provide new revelations.  

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Of course, getting enough willing participants will be a challenge, Napper admits.

"I think the challenge would be getting volunteers to participate in this experiment," he said, according to a report by The Canadian Press. "Especially if you didn't know which group you were going to fall into."

Napper doesn't appear to have secured any funding for his study, but the CP reports he "hopes to conduct a study where some type of molecule is inserted in people's noses and then half the participants pick their nose and eat it and the other half don't."

A 2008 study on nose picking found that 4.5 percent of 200 students surveyed "ate the nasal debris."

Little research on the health benefits of eating boogers had been done, though the Guardian, citing a 1966 study by S. Tarachow titled "Coprophagia and Allied Phenomena," reported  "persons do eat nasal debris, and find it tasty, too."

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