Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five 167

Just when you thought your brain could unwind on a Friday, you realise that it would rather be challenged with some good old fashioned medical trivia FFFF, introducing the Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five 167

Question 1

What is Asturian leprosy?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

Pellagra or vitamin B3 (niacin) deficiency as a result of a corn based diet (Noted in the Asturias community in Spain).

In 1915, back when such practices were legal and under the Surgeon General’s sanction in the USA, Dr. Goldberger offered prisoners of a southern prison freedom in return for cooperation in his experiment. Eleven healthy men volunteered, and were put on an all-corn diet. Goldberger kept the patients’ housing meticulously clean and regulated, from changing the sheets and clothing everyday to screening in the doors and windows. Three weeks into the diet, seven of the eleven men developed pellagra. The men actually begged to be put back in prison. Dr. Goldberger then supplemented their diets with other vegetables and fruit and the disease cleared up. [Reference]

Pellagra typically causes the 3 “D’s” – Diarrhoea, dementia and dermatitis.

Question 2

What condition did Andre The Giant have?

Reveal the funtabulous answer


There is a book called “As You Wish” about the making of The Princess Bride with stories about Andre The Giant (Fezzig). He called everyone “Boss” because he wanted to put them at ease. When filming, he got drunk and fell and broke a table and afterwards had a dedicated police unit follow him around for damage control. He took care of Robin Wright by using his hand as an umbrella for her when it was raining and he carried Wallace Shawn on his back while climbing.

His acromegaly gave him chronic pain and he wore a back brace throughout the entire movie

He sadly died of CHF a few years after its filming [Reference]

Question 3

What is the “Jake Leg“?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

Organophosphate-induced delayed neuropathy (OPIDN) from consumption of Jamaican Ginger, aka Jake.

Jake leg affected thousands in the American South and Midwest during prohibition due to the adulteration of bootlegged Jamaican Ginger (~80% ethanol) with tri-ortho cresyl phosphate. [Reference]

Question 4

A competitive athlete asks for your advice about an embarrassing medical problem she has developed… a unilaterally swollen labia majora. What sport does she most likely compete in?

Reveal the funtabulous answer


She most likely suffers from a condition known as ‘bicyclist’s vulva’.

That’s right as if cyclist’s nipples, cycling-related peripheral neuropathies and saddle sores weren’t bad enough there is a condition known as ‘bicyclist’s vulva’.

Bayaens and colleagues described 6 cases in a 2002 paper in the BMJ (the patients cycled an average of 462.5 km per week). They all had unilateral lymphoedema thought to be due to compression of the inguinal lymphatics. [Reference]

Question 5

What did Brown-Sequard repeatedly inject himself at the age of 72, in order to rejuvenate himself?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

Extracts of guinea-pig testes.

The day after the first subcutaneous injection, and still more after the two succeeding ones, a radical change took place in me . . . I had regained at least all the strength I possessed a good many years ago . . . My limbs, tested with a dynamometer, for a week before my trial and during the month following the first injection, showed a decided gain of strength . . . I have had a greater improvement with regard to the expulsion of fecal matters than in any other function . . . With regard to the facility of intellectual labour, which had diminished within the last few years, a return to my previous ordinary condition became quite manifest


Brown-Séquard also reported that similarly dramatic benefits of extracts from rabbit and guinea pig testes had been observed in three men, aged 54, 56 and 68 years, whereas injections of water in two other men had had no effect. This has been proven to still be due to the placebo effect

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Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five

Dr Neil Long BMBS FACEM FRCEM FRCPC. Emergency Physician at Kelowna hospital, British Columbia. Loves the misery of alpine climbing and working in austere environments (namely tertiary trauma centres). Supporter of FOAMed, lifelong education and trying to find that elusive peak performance.

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