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Gut Bacteria We Pick Up As Kids Stick With Us For Decades

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Most of the microbes in our guts appear to remain stable for years, perhaps even most of our lives, researchers reported Thursday.

An analysis of the bacteria in the digestive systems of 37 healthy women over a period of about five years found, for the most part, little variation over time, says molecular biologist Jeffrey Gordon of the Washington University School of Medicine, who led the research. As decades-long internal companions, Gordon says, many microbes "are in a position to shape our lives, to promote our health or, in certain circumstances, contribute to risk for disease."

Scientists have known for a long time that we all carry around bacteria that help us digest our food. But they apparently do lots of other things for us too.

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