For a moment there, everybody who's ever had trouble with farting inappropriately or had a bad case of gas felt vindicated.
News reports said that smelling farts could reduce the risks of cancer, strokes, heart attacks, arthritis, and dementia. Everyone was so excited that something so smelly and obnoxious could be beneficial that they didn't look into it any further.
Hydrogen sulfide is a gas that often smells like rotten eggs and sometimes human flatulence. It's fatal in large doses, but when cells get stressed from disease, they draw in small amounts of the hydrogen sulfide to the mitochondria (which gives the cells their energy).
In a study published in the journal Medicinal Chemistry Communications, Professor Matt Whiteman of the University of Exeter Medical School and a team of researchers found that a new compound called AP39 could be beneficial when the body's own levels of hydrogen sulfide are depleted.
"When cells become stressed by disease, they draw in enzymes to generate minute quantities of hydrogen sulfide. This keeps the mitochondria ticking over and allows cells to live. If this doesn't happen, the cells die and lose the ability to regulate survival and control inflammation," Whiteman explained in a press release.
"We have exploited this natural process by making a compound called AP39, which slowly delivers very small amounts of [hydrogen sulfide] specifically to the mitochondria. Our results indicate that if stressed cells are treated with AP39, the mitochondria are protected and cells stay alive."
The key here is that tiny amounts of hydrogen sulfide, not big fart-bombs, can be beneficial. There's no indication that the gas coming from outside the body does any good whatsoever.
In other words, keep your farts to yourself.