At MyHealthCafe.com, we’re big on prevention. There’s no better way to save money on your healthcare and health insurance than staying healthy (sad, but true!).
However, we’re not fans of spending money on preventive measure that don’t actually prevent you from getting sick. It would defeat the purpose of saving money on healthcare, so we were very interested when we came across a blog in The Los Angeles Times on the effectiveness of hand sanitizers.
Hand sanitizers like Purell, Germ-X, and Cleanwell became the rage last year as the H1N1 virus swept through the country. Millions of little clear plastic bottles popped up on desks everywhere, and Americans tried to wipe away any potential infections. But do hand sanitizers really keep you healthier? Are they worth the money?
A team of researchers at The University of Virginia decided to find out, and the results are in:
But new research out of the University of Virginia finds that they are of no particular use in warding off the flu. They also failed to ward off rhinovirus, a major cause of the common cold.
The researchers, led by Dr. Ronald B. Turner, tested the sanitizers in real-world conditions. They asked 116 volunteers to carry around a sanitizer with “enhanced antiviral activity” and use it every three hours while they were awake. Another group of 96 volunteers followed their usual routines.
Researchers tracked them for 10 weeks, collecting specimens once a week to test for flu and rhinovirus. Additional samples were taken whenever a study participant complained of cold or flu-like symptoms.
It turned out that sanitizer users developed 12 flu infections per 100 volunteers, compared with 15 cases of flu per 100 volunteers in the group that didn’t do anything special. In addition, there were 42 cases of rhinovirus per 100 volunteers among the sanitizer users, versus 51 for the control group. Neither difference was statistically significant.
So, if you like to use hand sanitizers to keep yourself clean, go for it! But you may not stay any healthier than if you used plain old soap and water.
The study was funded by the Dial Corporation which, ironically, makes hand sanitizers.
Do you use hand sanitizers? Tell us about it!