Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Too many carrots make you orange and other ways to make a human rainbow

Shortened link for this post is http://is.gd/cpNbrW

Yesterday, on Google+ @BoraZ shared a really interesting blog post about someone discovering, via a PubMed search, that yes you can turn orange if you eat too many carrots. Despite vaguely knowing about this sort of thing it was still a delight to read of @Scicurious's discovery, and acknowledgement that her father's "tall tale" turned out to be real.

One of the commenters (on the original blog post) also links to this rather fun story "Eating Vegetables Gives Skin a More Healthy Glow Than the Sun, Study Shows"

So... over-carroting makes you a yellowish orange hue, what other colours can people turn themselves? Either through unwise dietary choices or from inherited or acquired metabolic disorders?

There was a bit of brief chat about the style of the blogpost (using capitals for EMPHASIS isn't to everyone's taste) but my comment focused more on the question of how can we make a human rainbow.
"Although caps annoy me I didn't find it too bad in this instance (and it was a fascinating story I thought). In an emergency you could paste the offending text into Word then use Shift+F3 a couple of times to decapitalise the variable case horror.

Anyway, this has made me think of other conditions or diseases where skin changes colour - people with haemochromatosis (in which the person's organs 'overstore' dietary iron) can often go a bit bronzed and people who've inexplicably seen fit to quaff colloidal silver for their health (!) can end up a silvery/blue from argyria. Google images is a fascinating trove of people who've done this - they look like they are the black and white person inserted into a colour photo.

People with Wilson's disease will often have golden rings around their iris (called Kayser-Fleischer rings). The rainbow of hues following a large bruise is also pretty interesting both visually and biochemically. Too much sunlight makes me go pink and peely :)

Haemochromatosis is also apparently managed with regular blood letting as this helps get the iron out of the organs of course.
What other colours can we turn?
Jo "Violet Beauregarde" Brodie
Edited for, somewhat ironically, emboldened emphasis of the named conditions :)"
Comments from me on my comment...
I wince a little bit whenever I hear the argument put forward, usually by skeptics, that we've moved on from the savage practice of bloodletting and so therefore we should move on from the pointless practice of homeopathy or some other foolish intervention (we should move on from homeopathy because there's no good evidence for it and not because of its relationship to other bad ideas). Just because we used to do something in the past etc. etc. For most things I should imagine that bloodletting is a terrible idea, but not it seems for haemochromatosis.
By the way, the old-fashioned lancet-type device used to cut into the vein was called a fleam which I think might just be my favourite word ever.

I've reported a couple of websites advertising iridology to the Advertising Standards Authority for making claims about what health information you can glean from the eyes. It's important to be clear that this isn't zero and there is information to be found at the surface of the eyeball, but not that much from what I can gather. I was a bit surprised that none of the iridology flogging websites I've seen so far mentions the iris rings as that would seem to be a bit of a free pass for them. (I don't think the rings are present in all cases and I suspect other things need to be tested to confirm).

Finally, drinking colloidal silver is just a stupid idea and it doesn't help with anything.

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Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).