We get a lot of press releases here, mostly with grabby titles like: "Uninsured adults increase Medicare costs." So it's a treat, really, to read one from Harvard with the snappy start "Dietary supplement can turn the skin permanently blue." Permanently! That's the tabloid stuff we need to be doing to keep our business vital. And it even turns out to be true.
Colloidal silver, often taken for its purported properties as a cold medicine and all-around cure-all, is the dietary supplement in question, explains an article in the August Harvard Health Letter. When the silver is swallowed, little granules accumulate in the body. If overdone, this can turn the skin a gray-blue hue -- and there's no way to remove the granules once they're deposited.
The article describes a 59-year-old man who looked so blue he was shipped off to the emergency room because he appeared to be seriously oxygen-deprived.
Out of curiosity, we took a look on the Web to see what other colors skin can turn under odd circumstances. (And just to say: We were a little taken aback by several enthusiastic Web discussions on ways to turn one's urine and stool all the colors of the rainbow.) Of course, there's the old eat-a-lot-of-carrots trick: The beta-carotene settles in the fat, and the palms, as a result, can look quite orange. But how tired is that?
The real future, it seems, lies within the genetics labs. Mice, pigs and flatworms and flies have been genetically engineered to glow fluorescent green -- scientists can buy such mice from the Jackson Laboratory in Maine, purveyors of fine rodents. Mice with green fur exist as well.
What's more, other, slightly different genes from jellyfish and coral can make cells glow yellow, blue and red. Some day soon, parents may have a lot more to gnash their teeth at than a tongue post and a little tattoo.
-- Rosie MestelCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times