Men with beards carry more bacteria than dogs, new MRI machine study claims
A new scientific study has provoked controversy, by claiming with men with beards carry more bacteria on their person on average than dogs.
The study, authored by Swiss professor Andreas Gutzeit, was published in the medical journal European Radiology, and entitled: "Would it be safe to have a dog in the MRI scanner before your own examination? A multicenter study to establish hygiene facts related to dogs and men."
The study aimed to determine whether or not it would be hygienic to have dogs and humans share the same MRI machine. The researchers compared the bacterial load found in colony-forming units of human-pathogenic microorganisms, in specimens taken from a sample of 18 men and 30 canines. They then compared the extent of bacterial contamination of an MRI scanner shared by dogs and humans with two other MRI scanners used exclusively by humans.
Strangely, the researchers found that, although the MRI scanner used for both dogs and humans was routinely cleaned post-scanning, they found a substantially lower bacterial load in the machine used for animals and humans, compared with the scanners used exclusively for human beings. When they analysed the extent of contamination for each of the men, they found that the men with facial hair appeared to have brought more bacteria into the machines with them than the clean-shaven men or the dogs.
However, not everyone is so convinced by the study's findings. In an interview with British tabloid newspaper The Daily Mail, Keith Flett, founder of the Beard Liberation Front, stated: "I think it's possible to find all sorts of unpleasant things if you took swabs from people's hair and hands and then tested them,' he said. 'I don't believe that beards in themselves are unhygienic. There seems to be a constant stream of negative stories about beards that suggest it's more about pogonophobia than anything else."
Indeed, back in May of 2015, a number of erroneous reports circulated which claimed that a 'study' had found significant amounts of faecal matter in men's beards. However, fact-checking site Snopes reports that that underlying 'study' was merely a brief local news report by Albuquerque station KOAT, which took swabs from the beards of a small handful of volunteers, and found some bacteria nestled in the hair which can be found in the gut, but certainly not faeces.