Pigs Can Breathe Through Their Butts, but What About Humans?

Pigs Can Breathe Through Their Butts, but What About Humans?
Image: Ruby Innes/Gizmodo Australia

New research has revealed pigs can breathe through their butts. While that is, um, cool, the research indicates humans might actually be able to do the same.

In fact, there are going to be some clinical studies happening towards the end of the year to see if us humans can also breathe out of the other pink fleshy part of our bodies.

Let’s start at the top. A team of scholars in Japan have determined that pigs can absorb oxygen through the anus. The experiment, while disturbing, was designed to find new ways to save the lives of people whose lungs are failing.

Brought to our attention by our friends over at Vice, the team determined pigs can breathe out of their arse after pumping oxygen and oxygenated liquid through animals’ buttholes into their intestines. The researchers found that they could survive without breathing through their lungs.

“It’s so impressive because we never thought of breathing from the gut, but it’s possible,” Takanori Takebe, an author of the study and a doctor at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, is quoted as telling Vice World News.

If this sounds a little familiar, that’s because it is. Last year, the team behind this revelation published their study focusing on mice. They found that mice that received the treatment lived longer than the ones that didn’t. The experiments show mammals can survive longer and have more strength in low-oxygen circumstances when given oxygen gas or an oxygen-rich liquid through their rectums, in a process similar to an enema. While fish like loaches and catfish use a similar method to gain additional oxygen in the natural world, this doesn’t appear to be an evolutionary adaptation for mammals.

In other words, mammalian bodies can’t naturally do this, but with a little push from modern science, it becomes possible.

Vice said Takebe plans to start human clinical trials as early as this year to prove its real-life efficacy.

“Artificial respiratory support plays a vital role in the clinical management of respiratory failure due to severe illnesses such as pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome,” said Takebe said previously.

“Although the side effects and safety need to be thoroughly evaluated in humans, our approach may offer a new paradigm to support critically ill patients with respiratory failure.”