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General Science => Question of the Week => Topic started by: thedoc on 17/03/2009 18:05:17

Title: QotW - 09.03.22 - Chameleon skin foods
Post by: thedoc on 17/03/2009 18:05:17
Just as flamingoes are pink because they eat krill, penguins get the yellow spot on their face from the same source, would the same thing happen to humans?

Asked by Carlos, Panama

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Title: None
Post by: thedoc on 17/03/2009 18:05:17
We put this to Dr Stephen Juan, Ashley Montagu Fellow for Public Understanding of Human Sciences at the University of Sydney.
There are substances that can turn your skin different colours. One of the most famous ones is carotenemia which is when you eat too many carrots. Your skin can turn yellowish or orange. Itís a benign condition, doesnít seem to be related to anything  but if you eat too many carrots the beta carotene builds up in your system and you turn into the colour of a carrot: first a little yellow and then a little orange. There was an interesting study in 2006 in Paediatric Dermatology by Royal Liverpool Hospital that showed that carotenemia can come from eating green beans as well. There are other vegetables as well like yams itís been known to happen where the colour can change and some other fruits as well. Yes, you have to be very careful. Of course itís going to show up in lighter skinned people first but itíll happen to anybody. By the way, speaking of carrots the old question is what about carrots improving eyesight? Yes, carrots do improve the eyesight a little bit but only if you are vitamin A deficient to begin with.  
Title: QotW - 09.03.22 - Chameleon skin foods
Post by: Emilio Romero on 17/03/2009 18:15:18

I've heard that eating a lot of carrots "turns" your skin orange... does that count?
(and breathing lots and lots of CO2 turns you dead-grey)
;-)
Title: QotW - 09.03.22 - Chameleon skin foods
Post by: chris on 17/03/2009 23:31:16
I remember watching John Craven's Newsround when I was little and seeing a boy who was orange through over-fondness with the aforementioned orange root vegetables...
Title: QotW - 09.03.22 - Chameleon skin foods
Post by: tony6789 on 18/03/2009 14:13:56
haha the chik off of willy wonka found that out tha hard way! lol
Title: QotW - 09.03.22 - Chameleon skin foods
Post by: dentstudent on 18/03/2009 15:37:00
I remember watching John Craven's Newsround when I was little and seeing a boy who was orange through over-fondness with the aforementioned orange root vegetables...

This also occurred in the son of a neighbour through too many sweet potatoes. Er, that's yams for over the pond.
Title: QotW - 09.03.22 - Chameleon skin foods
Post by: Hamstah on 18/03/2009 16:16:46
Eating or breathing in silver can (if enough is ingested) cause a condition known as Argyria which can turn a person's skin blue or blue-grey - to my knowledge the condition is permanent.
Title: QotW - 09.03.22 - Chameleon skin foods
Post by: jameslo on 19/03/2009 07:29:38
I attended the US Naval Nuclear Power School many years ago and shared a dormitory with loads of pre-nuclear nut cases.

One of them was changing to a strange Umpa-Lumpa orange colour over several weeks and was obviously getting unwell until one day he collapsed outside of class. The hospital physicians were completely puzzled by his condition. The doctors had sent someone to check out his room to see if there were any environmental causes. When they opened his dorm room they discovered an industrial size polythene bag half full of artificially coloured cheese-puffs and a refrigerator filled with beer. The student had finally admitted to the doctors that he was living off the cheese puffs and beer since school had started (about two months before). He eventually returned to school, albeit in a different graduating class than me. It took months before his colour became normal.

Title: QotW - 09.03.22 - Chameleon skin foods
Post by: chris on 19/03/2009 09:59:03
That is a fantastic story - what was in the crisps for Heavens' sake?
Title: QotW - 09.03.22 - Chameleon skin foods
Post by: RD on 19/03/2009 19:35:20
Eating or breathing in silver can (if enough is ingested) cause a condition known as Argyria which can turn a person's skin blue or blue-grey - to my knowledge the condition is permanent.

Do not adjust the colour of your monitor: this poor devil really is blue/grey ...

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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22536241/


BTW cheese puffs are coloured with carotene (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carotenodermia).
Title: QotW - 09.03.22 - Chameleon skin foods
Post by: drmallard on 21/03/2009 00:59:30
What we eat can surely affect the color of our skin.  About 25 years ago a good friend of mine consumed one quart of carrot juice daily because he thought it was good for him.  After a month or two, we all noticed that his skin developed a very distinct orange hue.  We still laugh about this and refer to it as his orange period.  He stopped drinking the carrot juice after this and his skin returned to a more normal shade after a while.

Drmallard
Title: QotW - 09.03.22 - Chameleon skin foods
Post by: RD on 21/03/2009 04:44:34
a good friend of mine consumed one quart of carrot juice daily because he thought it was good for him.  After a month or two, we all noticed that his skin developed a very distinct orange hue.  We still laugh about this and refer to it as his orange period.  He stopped drinking the carrot juice after this and his skin returned to a more normal shade after a while

Quote
Carotenemia is in itself harmless and does not require treatment. By discontinuing the use of high quantities of carotene the skin color will return to normal. It may take up to several months, however, for this to happen.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carotenodermia
Title: QotW - 09.03.22 - Chameleon skin foods
Post by: Emilio Romero on 23/03/2009 15:51:59
And I just wonder what would happen if the krill ate the carrots... or the flamingos ate the carrots...  [;)]
Title: QotW - 09.03.22 - Chameleon skin foods
Post by: wolfekeeper on 25/03/2009 00:29:34
The argyria thing. The funny thing is after you've taken lots of silver, you only develop the colour when you go out in the Sun.

As in both literally and figuratively develop the condition- it's the same photochemical reaction used in black and white photography!!!