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May 21, 2021

Mammals can breathe through their intestines

Posted by in category: futurism

On a good day, things exit through the anus. But in rodents and pigs in respiratory distress, oxygen can be absorbed by tissues in the rectum, helping the animals recover, a new study suggests. The scientists behind the research propose that flushing oxygen into the rectum could one day help save human lives if conventional ventilation methods are unavailable.

“It looks like a crazy idea,” says Sean Colgan, a gastroenterologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who was not involved in the study. “But if you look at the data, it’s actually a very compelling story.”

Most mammals breathe through their mouths and noses and send oxygen to their body via the lungs. A few aquatic animals, including sea cucumbers and catfish, breathe through their intestines, and the intestinal tissues of humans can readily absorb pharmaceuticals. But no one knew whether oxygen could enter the bloodstream via mammalian intestines.

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