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The 12 Most Surprising Medical Facts

baby boy in diaper with toothbrush

At least one of these facts will be so surprising that you’ll never forget it.  There’s some weird stuff going on.

1) Chewing gum is a valid medical treatment with research papers written and clinical trials run for its use in treating ileus.

2) DBCP is a pesticide that was used on over 40 crops in the United States until 1977.  It turns out it can, at fairly low doses, make men sterile.

3) Some medical schools don’t require Doctors to promise that they should “first, do no harm” to patients anymore.

4) Researchers let hundreds of black men suffer from untreated syphilis for 40 years.  The poor men had no idea why they were sick and trusted that the researchers were giving them the best healthcare possible.

This “Tuskgee syphilis experiment” only ended in 1972.

Maybe there was a reason for number 3?

5) They sometimes say that they don’t make men like they used to.  Turns out that might be true.

In the old days, men would make 20 million sperm on ejaculation.  Some studies have shown that number has dropped by half to “just” 10 million.  This has absolutely nothing to do with number 2.

6) You might not know that cows are known for being animals that chew food, swallow it, then spit it back up to be eaten again.  That’s weird enough.  But here’s the kicker.

It turns out that people can do the same thing.  It’s a condition called “rumination.”  And the best part?  A possible treatment for rumination consists of chewing gum.

7) A handful of Botulism toxin can kill millions of people.

8) A central tenant of toxicology is that anything whatsoever can be poisonous if given at high enough levels.  That includes water.

9) Plato, a famous Greek philosopher, believed that being scared could cause birth defects.

10) Half of the studies into some antidepressants show that they are no more effective than placebo.  Companies aren’t required to report studies that show their med doesn’t work when seeking FDA approval.

11) For a long time, Doctors wouldn’t wash their hands or instruments.  They could go from operating from a patient with a fatal infectious disease to using the same instrument on you.

The first Doctor to realize that this was a problem decided to do something and made those he knew start washing their hands.  Fatality rates plummeted.  But get this.

When the Doctor decided to make public his idea – that Doctors should wash their hands – the reaction wasn’t good.

It ended with him beaten and thrown into an insane asylum, where he died.  People don’t like being told that their bad habits are killing someone else.

12) Thalidomide has been described as being the cause of the worst health failure of the entire 20th century – it was a medication that caused thousands of children to be born with serious birth defects like having minute flippers for arms.

One woman at the FDA had a bad feeling about Thalidomide and stopped it from entering the US.  She was a hero.

Yet recent events have shown that Thalidomide might be a useful medical treatment after all.  Thalidomide is now a standard treatment for leprosy and some types of cancer.

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This post was written by on Wednesday, March 3, 2010. This author has written 223 posts on this blog and has 6323894 total posts views.

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One comment

  1. There are 2.5 trillion (give or take) of red blood cells in your body at any moment. To maintain this number, about two and a half million new ones need to be produced every second by your bone marrow.That’s like a new population of the city of Toronto every second.

    Read more: Amazing Medical Facts of the Body

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