Spread with a Kiss

Lovey, give us a kiss then!


This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.


Kissing can be a beautiful expression of love. But kissing also has an uglier side: spreading disease! So, what can kissing tell us about epidemiology?


Enter Troels Arbøll and Sophie Rasmussen. They looked throughout history to see where swapping spit – and germs – began.


Prior research suggests that kissing was widely introduced in the bronze age, accelerating disease transmission. But Arbøll and Rasmussen disagree. They show that accounts of kissing appear hundreds of years earlier and in many cultures. This implies that kissing did not spread from one culture to another. Instead, it’s a universal practice, possibly older than humanity itself! 


However, kissing practices vary between cultures, likely affecting disease transmission. For instance, a … mouthier… society may have spread disease more quickly than a conservative one. Fully exploring this research will require experts from many fields PAIRING up! 


Just pop a mint first, love! *SMOOCH*

Reference (APA-style)

Arbøll, T. P., & Rasmussen, S. L. (2023). The ancient history of kissing. Science, 380(6646), 688–690. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.adf0512