A new study has found that women have a greater variety of bacteria on their hands than men do.
"The sheer number of bacteria species detected on the hands of the study participants was a big surprise, and so was the greater diversity of bacteria we found on the hands of women," added lead researcher Noah Fierer, an assistant professor in the UC department of ecology and evolutionary biology. The average hand harbored 150 species of bacteria.
The researchers aren't sure why women harbored a greater variety of bacteria than men, but Fierer suggested it may have to do with the acidity of the skin--men generally have more acidic skin than women. Other possibilities are differences in sweat and oil gland production between men and women, the frequency of moisturizer or cosmetic applications, skin thickness or hormone production. Women also may have more bacteria living under the surface of the skin where they are not accessible to washing.
While the researchers stressed the importance of regular hand washing, they also noted that washing did not eliminate bacteria.
Knight stressed that "the vast majority of the bacteria we have on our body are either harmless or beneficial---the pathogens are a small minority."
Source: The Associated Press, November 2008