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We're Too Cool for a 98.6 Body Temperature... Literally

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The standard 98.6°F body temperature has been accepted as 'normal' for about 150 years. German doctor Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich-- try saying that five times fast-- determined the average human body temperature by finding the mean of one million temperature readings from 25,000 patients, coming up with the standard we use today. However, new evidence from Stanford suggests that Wunderlich's numbers are no longer accurate a century and a half later.

In fact, our body temperatures have lowered considerably decade after decade. Now, we sit at a cool (pun intended) 97.5°F, nearly a full degree cooler than when Wunderlich was creating his data. In the Stanford study, it was confirmed that temperatures in historical records were higher than they typically read today. One degree might not seem like a lot, but think back to the last time you had a fever: just a degree or two can be genuinely uncomfortable!

So why are we cooler than we used to be? The study theorizes that the temperature change is "a marker for metabolic rate," specifically, that our metabolisms are lower than our ancestors from 150 years ago. The study found this surprising, since body masses in the U.S.A. (where the data was collected) have increased, and therefore should expend more body heat over more surface area in the process of metabolism.

Stay cool, folks!


Photo: Pixabay

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