Can people grow horns (and other bizarre questions doctors are asked)
21:01 GMT, 29 September 2012
Have you ever wondered if chocolate really does give you spots, or just how much of our brains we actually use
In an extract from his new book of weird and wonderful health trivia, writer DAVID HAVILAND reveals the answers to these questions, and other bizarre facts from the world of medical science.
Making a point: But at least Lady Gaga's horns can be easily removed
Can people grow horns
Yes. A rare condition known as cornu cutaneum causes conical protrusions to grow from the head and arms. The growths look like horns, wood or coral but are made of keratin, the protein found in our hair and fingernails. Patients are usually advised to have them surgically removed as they are tumours that can be malignant.
What is the difference between a moron and an imbecile
About 25 IQ points. The term ‘moron’ was coined in the early 20th Century by psychologist Henry H. Goddard. He created an IQ test that categorised participants as gifted (IQ of 130-plus), normal (71-129), moron (51-70), imbecile (26-50) or idiot (0-25). Over time, the public began to use the terms as insults rather than medical definitions.
Does chocolate give you spots
There is no evidence that chocolate or fast food cause acne. The only foods that have been linked to spots are milk and those with a high glycaemic index. But most experts agree the real trigger is the hormone androgen, which causes sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. Spots occur when dead skin blocks pores, causing sebum to build up behind the plug.
Was King George V killed by his doctor
In a way, yes. He was given a ‘speedball’ of cocaine and morphine to hasten his death on the night of January 20, 1936, after a long battle with illness.
His doctor, Lord Dawson, did not want him to endure a long and painful death. The Royal Family were also keen for his death to make The Times the next day, rather than coinciding with the more downmarket evening papers.
Are surgical instruments ever left inside patients
About 300 instruments are used during routine procedures and 600 in more complex operations. Tools found inside patients after surgery include scalpels, clamps, towels, scissors, forceps and a 9½ in spatula.
How long does it take to digest chewing gum
Many children are warned by their parents not to swallow chewing gum because it will ‘stay in their stomach for seven years’.
However, the indigestible gum made of butyl rubber, also used in tyres, does not get stuck to the side of the gut but is expelled by the body in the normal way, down the toilet.
What percentage of our brains do we use
The popular myth that we use only ten per cent of our brains began when the Victorian-era psychologist William James wrote: ‘We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources.’
After Albert Einstein made a similar quip, people began to believe it was scientific fact. However, brain-imaging scans have shown we use all parts of our brains.
What does vitamin E do
No one knows. Although it is found in a range of foods, including nuts, seeds, eggs, spinach and avocado, its benefits remain unproven.
Early studies, which suggested it could fight ageing and help prevent heart disease and Alzheimer’s, have not been backed up.
More recently, high doses have been shown to increase the risk of heart problems and possibly raise the risk of death by preventing blood clotting.
What is a UBI
The acronyms that appear on medical notes or hospital charts are often used by doctors and nurses to amuse themselves. They include UBI (Unexplained Beer Injury), GOK (God Only Knows) and FLK (Funny Looking Kid).
How To Remove A Brain And Other Bizarre Medical Practices And Procedures, by David Haviland, is available from Summersdale at £7.99.