Bacteria vs Human Cells

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Bacteria vs Human Cells

Post by hope » 07 May 2018 23:01

How many bacteria vs human cells are in the body?

When we ask what the microbiome is, part of the answer usually includes the fact that are 10 times as many bacteria
in the body as humans cells in the body. Unfortunately, we may no longer be able to use that statistic.
A recent study out of the Weizmann Institute in Israel states that the number of bacteria may actually be very
similar to the number of human cells in the body.


The authors of the study found that the 10:1 ratio of bacterial to human cells goes back to a 1977 study by Dwayne
Savage and an earlier 1972 paper estimating the number of bacteriial cells in the human body. The Weizmann
scientists redid the estimate and found that there were 39 trillion bacterial cells in the
body. They also estimated the number of human cells in the body, about 84% of which are red cells, finding there
to be about 30 trillion human cells in the body.

While this results in about 1.3. Bacterial cell per human call, the numbers may vary significantly from person to
person and could change with each defection. They estimate that the range of bacterial cells goes from 30 to 50
trillion in each individual. Women also have a higher ratio of bacterial cells than human cells because they have
fewer human cells, specifically red blood cells.

While this study does not take in account fungi, viruses, and archaea which all make the human microbiome and
would increase the ratio of microbes to human cells, the often stated ratio of 10:1 for bacterial cells to human
cells is most likely not accurate.
While I will no longer be able to use this fun fact in my description of the microbiome, it does not take away from
the importance of bacterial cells in human health.

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