Can Smelling Farts Prevent Cancer?

Wait, what!?

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For a brief moment there, everybody who has ever had trouble with farting inappropriately or had a bad case of gas felt somewhat vindicated.

Various research has said that smelling farts could actually reduce the risks of certain diseases such as, cancer, strokes, heart attacks, arthritis, and dementia.

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However, everyone was so excited from the news that something so smelly and obnoxious could be beneficial that they didn't look into it any further. So let's get to the bottom of this claim:


Can smelling farts prevent cancer?

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Hydrogen sulfide is a gas that often smells like rotten eggs and sometimes, like human flatulence. It is fatal in large doses, but when cells get stressed from disease, they draw in small amounts of the hydrogen sulfide to the mitochondria (which, in turn, gives the cells their energy).


In a 2014 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 had explained.

He went on to say, "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."

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Dr. Mark Wood also weighed in, explaining, “Although hydrogen sulfide is well known as a pungent, foul-smelling gas in rotten eggs and flatulence, it is naturally produced in the body and could in fact be a healthcare hero with significant implications for future therapies for a variety of diseases.” 

Additional research has found further benefits for AP39.

One 2018 study suggested that it may be able to treat a heart attack or reduce the chances of having a stroke. A 2015 study found that it may be able to lower blood pressure.

A 2016 study found it could possibly improve the health of your kidneys. And other 2018 research even found that it might help slow the aging process.


However, the key here is that tiny amounts of hydrogen sulfide, not big fart bombs, can be beneficial.

And there's no indication that the gas coming from outside the body does any good whatsoever. So, in other words, please keep your farts to yourself.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, and Woman's Day. Visit her website or her Instagram.