Color-Blind People May Not Notice That They’re Bleeding!

Unusual bleeding or discharge is one of the classic seven warning signs of cancer. Blood in the stool could be a sign of colon cancer. It’s also a common sign of diverticulosis of the colon. Unfortunately, people with red-green color blindness might not notice that they are passing blood with their bowel movements. Here’s an article about three color-blind men who didn’t notice that they were passing blood with their stool. One of them had colon cancer. Another had diverticulosis; he was bleeding heavily but mistook the blood for diarrhea. The third patient had bleeding from hemorrhoids. The men didn’t notice the blood because they can’t see the color red. Fortunately, their wives saw the blood and had them seek medical attention.

Red-green color-blindness is far more common in men than in women. That’s because men have only one copy of the X chromosome in each of their cells. If one of the genes on their X chromosome is defective, they don’t have a spare X chromosome to serve as a backup. Women don’t get red-green color-blindness unless they inherit a defective version of the gene from both parents. That’s why women rarely get red-green color-blindness, but even a woman with normal color vision can have color-blind sons.

Fortunately, the intestinal problems that these men had are preventable by diet. Colon cancer is rare in populations that eat a low-fat, plant-based diet. So are diverticulosis and hemorrhoids, which result from constipation.


Note: Since I wrote this post, glasses that correct for red-green colorblindness have become available!

How Gorillas Celebrate Christmas–With Brussels Sprouts!

Just Make Sure You Stay Upwind of Them

At Christmastime last year, the Chessington World of Adventures, in Surrey, England, gave their gorillas some Brussels sprouts. The gorillas loved them, but the aftereffects horrified the zoo visitors.

Gorilla keeper Michael Rozzi said: “We feed the gorillas Brussels sprouts during the winter because they are packed with vitamin C and have great nutritional benefits. Unfortunately, an embarrassing side effect is that it can cause bouts of flatulence in humans and animals alike. However, I don’t think any of us were prepared for a smell that strong.” The gorillas didn’t seem to care, nor did any of the gorillas ask anyone to pull their finger. The zoo keepers solved the problem by giving the gorillas their Brussels sprouts after closing time. On Christmas Day, when the zoo was closed to the public, the gorillas got to eat Brussels sprouts all day long. It was a solution that worked for everyone.

I eat a lot of Brussels sprouts in the winter, and I eat other members of the cabbage family and lots of beans year-round, but I never have a gas problem. I’m grateful for that, but it means I can’t use myself as a subject to test possible remedies. Some people recommend Bean-o, and others recommend spices and herbs such as cumin, fennel, caraway, dill, peppermint, chamomile, sage, and thyme.

Many people who think that they hate Brussels sprouts really only hate overcooked Brussels sprouts. Overcooking releases a stinky sulfur compound called sinigrin. Try cooking your sprouts for only 6 to 7 minutes, and see if that makes a difference. The sinigrin will stay put, until you digest the sprouts.

Sinigrin may stink, but it’s probably good for you. It evidently causes cancer cells in the colon to commit suicide, which could help to explain why populations that eat a lot of cabbage and other members of the Brassica family, including Brussels sprouts, have a low risk of colon cancer.