We all know the information that the average body temperature is 37 degrees Celsius and that above that begins the increased one, which usually signals a disease, but it seems that we are all mistaken. Namely, our bodies from the 60s of the 19th century are getting colder.
Experts who have studied the average body temperature for decades knew that the 37 degree is too high, says Julie Parsonnet from “Stanford”.
“But previously it was thought that it was a measurement error, not that our body temperature actually dropped over time,” she added.
To find out what was really going on, Parsonnet and her colleagues analyzed three sets of data. The first included 23,710 US Civil War veterans whose temperatures were measured between 1860 and 1940.
“It took me a long time to find a 19th-century database that recorded body temperature measurements at the time,” she said.
The other two sets of data covered the periods from 1971 to 1975 and from 2007 to 2017. Thus, the scientists analyzed a total of 677,423 measurements of body temperature.
The results showed that the average American body temperature dropped by 0.03 degrees per decade. Men born in the early 19th century had a body temperature 0.59 degrees higher than that of today’s men.
Available data on women do not go that far into the early 19th century, but it has been observed that their body temperature has dropped by 0.32 degrees since the 1990s. This means that the average body temperature today is around 36.6 degrees Celsius, not 37.
What is the explanation?
“The most likely explanation, in my opinion, is that in microbiological terms we are different from before,” Parsonnet said.
Namely, today’s people have fewer infections thanks to vaccines and antibiotics, so our immune system is less active and our body tissues are less inflamed.
If this is true, the body temperature should drop in other countries where human health has improved.
There is no indication that this trend of lowering body temperature will stop soon. But, of course, there is a limit. – The temperature will not drop to zero – says Parsonnet.