Sorry, But Your Husband’s Most Disgusting Habit May Have an Upside

That one particularly awful thing he does? Turns out it could actually be helping your health. Here's the scientific research he's been waiting his whole life for.

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UPDATE (September, 2019): The research on which this article is based has subsequently been found to have been misinterpreted; therefore the headline and takeaway may be misleading. The study authors would like to clarify that none of the papers credited here—in the journals RSC Medicinal Chemistry, Nitric Oxide (2014) or Nitric Oxide (2015)—support the notion that inhaling hydrogen sulfide helps to prevent cancer or confer any health benefits of any kind. Their research is focused instead on a drug development project, and the active ingredients have not yet been tested on people.

Just about everyone has heard by now that being married is good for your health and longevity, with hitched people having lower rates of high blood pressure risk and even Type 2 diabetes. But there is a surprising way your husband’s worst habit may actually be increasing your lifespan: His farts are boosting your immune system. Yes, you read that right.

Researchers at the University of Exeter have found that hydrogen sulfide, the nose-pinching scent that gives flatulence its rotten egg-like quality, can actually have potent health benefits in small doses—and nobody is better at delivering the dose quite like the average husband. Depending on how you feel about his, ahem, donations, you may need to start following these tips for a happy marriage to keep your relationship on solid footing.

“In order to understand the science of passing gas, you have to understand the sheer scale of microbes that are housed in the human body,” explains AJ Troiano, PhD, a biomedical scientist and consultant. “It’s not the microbes that have protective properties, but the byproducts they produce during normal metabolic processes.” The important byproducts in this case are the copious amounts of hydrogen sulfide that are heartily expelled with each passing toot.

The study found that the stinky microbial byproduct most wives hate could actually reduce the risk of cancer, heart attack, strokes, arthritis, and dementia. According to other research, marriage is an important factor affecting the survival of heart attack patients, too, which means even if you’ve already suffered health issues, his finest farts could actually keep you alive, kicking, and sharp. They are an odiferous love letter about how much he cares. Really.

“Our results indicate that if stressed cells are treated with AP39, mitochondria are protected and cells stay alive,” Professor Matt Whiteman of the University of Exeter Medical School says. If you’re concerned about safe doses of inhaled hydrogen sulfide, you’re justified and should discourage your guy from loading up on delicious bean burritos—and the more surprising foods that cause gas—if you live in close quarters. A little whiff here or there may have health benefits, but you actually can overdose on fart gas.

At least for now, the next time you find yourself in a stinky situation, knowing that you’re protecting your health will help take the edge off the anger.

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Bryce Gruber
Bryce Gruber covers gift ideas, shopping, and e-commerce at RD.com, although you've likely seen her work across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting topics at TheLuxurySpot.com, Bravo, Parents.com, Martha Stewart, and on your TV screen through national talk shows including The Tamron Hall Show. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children. Find her on social media at @brycegruber.