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Stinky feet? Bamboo socks I tell yer



This year’s theme focuses on increasing the awareness of clinicians, scientists, and the public of our growing pain knowledge and how it can benefit those living with pain.

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I was recently traveling in the UK. I travel light so as to make ridiculously tight deadlines – even stopping for my luggage could best laid plans lay waste.  I decided this was a good opportunity to test out the relative stink-index of two kinds of socks – cotton and bamboo.  So, I undertook a double blind randomised comparison.  In the morning, I put one clean cotton and one clean bamboo sock in a container and shook them about. I closed my eyes and put one on each foot. I kept my eyes shut and put on my boots.  In the evening, I closed my eyes, removed my boots and removed my socks, in alternate order. I sniffed each one and gave it a score 0 = “still smells freshly washed”, 10 = “I think I am going to be sick, this is so smelly”. If a sock scored <2, it made it to another day, up to a maximum of 5 days.

Over 14 days of travel, bamboo socks clearly outscored cotton socks (mean difference = 5 +/- 3 points; p<0.01 – which means that there is a less than 1% chance that in this sample, bamboo socks are not actually less smelly than cotton socks). But here is the more amazing stat – I went through 10 cotton socks but only 3 bamboo socks and the bamboo socks were only rating 3 – 4 after FIVE days.

So, although the link from this to BodyInMind is tenuous to say the least, it clearly is of importance to the world.  I might expand the study and publish it. BMJ Christmas issue here we come……

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