10 of The Strangest Medical Studies (in Recent History, That Will Blow Your Mind)

Although historical medical literature is renowned for its peculiar studies and bizarre experiments that are unlikely to be conducted today, current medical studies can still be just as unusual. A prime example of this is Romanian forensic scientist Nicolae Minovici, who, in the early 1900s, repeatedly hanged himself to experience the sensation of being hanged, with assistants present to prevent his death.

Live Science has discovered that contemporary medical studies can also be peculiar. Here are ten of the most unusual experiments that we could locate in recent years.

Getting Drunk For ‘Science’

Historical medical literature is filled with strange and bizarre experiments that are highly unlikely to be conducted today, such as Romanian forensic scientist Nicolae Minovici’s repeated self-hanging in the early 1900s to understand the sensation. However, Live Science has discovered that current medical studies can also be quite peculiar. Here, we highlight one such study where participants got drunk for a good cause – to determine whether drunk driving or phone use while driving was worse. The 2006 study, published in the journal Human Factors, involved recruiting 40 social drinkers and testing their driving performance four times on a simulator. Results showed that cellphone users were more likely to cause accidents than drunk or sober drivers, with those using handheld phones being the most susceptible.

Woman Injected Semen Into Her Skin

One British woman’s experience after having sex is among the most unusual cases reported. The woman had a known allergy to Brazil nuts and developed hives and shortness of breath after intercourse with her boyfriend, who had eaten mixed nuts, including five Brazil nuts, three hours earlier. Despite her boyfriend’s efforts to avoid triggering her allergy by washing and cleaning himself, the 20-year-old woman still suffered a severe reaction.

Since the couple did not use a condom, it couldn’t have been due to a latex sensitivity. Allergy testing confirmed that the transfer of small amounts of Brazil nut proteins via semen caused the woman’s symptoms, as doctors injected a minute quantity of semen into her skin four hours after her boyfriend had eaten Brazil nuts, and she experienced an allergic reaction. The couple separated not long after the incident.

Cadaver Arms Used To Punch And Slap

Rest assured, this eerie experiment was carried out to study human evolution?

The basic idea is that the structure of a human hand, with shorter palms and fingers but longer thumbs compared to that of an ape’s, is not only designed for better manual dexterity to use various tools but also to make the hand usable for fistfighting.

To investigate this “pugilism hypothesis,” researchers conducted an experiment using the severed forearms of eight male cadavers, as outlined in a 2015 study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

The forearm of each cadaver was mounted on a wooden board and suspended from a pendulum to enable striking a padded surface either with a clenched fist or a flat palm.

Following the examination of hundreds of fists and slaps, the researchers discovered that a clenched fist can generate twice the force of an open-handed slap, with a tightly clenched fist having the ability to strike with 55 percent more force than a looser fist.

Moreover, a tightly clenched fist could reduce the strain on the metacarpals, which are the bones in the palm connecting to the fingers and thumb. Thus, the structure might protect these delicate bones from breaking during fights.

However, many scientists oppose this theory. They argue that if the hands genuinely evolved for fist fighting, then the face, which is a primary target for fists, would have developed more protective features and fewer delicate bones.

A Medical Study Where People Drank Their Own Blood

In a study published in August 2018, researchers did not drink their own blood to study vampirism, but instead to identify better ways to monitor symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The 16 healthy participants in this unusual experiment drank either 3 or 10 ounces of their own blood, and researchers measured their levels of a protein called calprotectin after each quaff. Calprotectin can indicate intestinal inflammation, which is a common symptom of IBD. The researchers found that blood in the GI tract could be a reason for mild elevations of fecal calprotectin and that extremely high levels could indicate an IBD flare-up.

Researcher Performs Colonoscopies On Himself

In 2006, a Japanese gastroenterologist named Dr. Akira Horiuchi conducted a unique experiment by performing a self-colonoscopy multiple times and documenting the process in the journal Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. Horiuchi’s aim was to demonstrate that colonoscopies are not as painful as many believe, and to achieve this, he used a pediatric endoscope, which is a thin, illuminated tube, while in a seated position.

Typically, a colonoscopy is performed using an adult-size endoscope, which is a thicker tube, while the person lies on their side. Over the course of two months, Horiuchi conducted the DIY colonoscopies four times and underwent the required bowel-cleansing prep before each exam. Although he used the same unconventional approach every time, his level of discomfort varied for each screening, which may explain why people experience different amounts of pain during the test.

A Study Wearing Wet Underwear in The Cold

In a small study conducted in Norway, researchers found that wearing wet underwear in cold weather can be highly uncomfortable. The study, published in the journal Ergonomics in 1994, involved eight men who wore long-underwear tops and bottoms in a test chamber for 60 minutes in cold temperatures of 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). Some of the men wore wet long-underwear bottoms, while the others wore dry ones. The researchers tested four different wet fabrics with varying thicknesses: cotton, wool, polypropylene, and a wool-polypropylene blended material.

Throughout the experiment, the men’s skin temperature, rectal temperature, and weight loss were measured every minute. Every ten minutes, the men rated how much they were shivering and sweating, as well as their comfort levels. The study’s results showed that the men who wore wet undies felt colder and less comfortable than those in dry underwear. The researchers concluded that an underwear’s thickness mattered more than its fabric to remain comfortable in cold and wet conditions.

Scientists Put Mites in Their Ear

In 1993, Robert Lopez, a veterinarian from New York, conducted an experiment to determine what would happen if a person caught ear mites, pesky critters that can cause itchy infections in the ears of cats and dogs. He documented the experiment in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. To conduct the experiment, Lopez inserted ear mites from an infected cat into his own left ear. He immediately heard scratching and moving sounds as the mites explored his ear canal.

Then, he felt an intense itching sensation, and the scratching sounds grew louder as the mites moved toward his eardrum. It took a month for the infection to subside. However, Lopez repeated the experiment two more times to see if he could replicate his results and indeed he could. But with each subsequent infection, his symptoms became less severe and resolved more quickly, suggesting that he was developing immunity to the pesky critters.

Researchers Sat in Smoke Filled Rooms

In 2022, a study was published in the journal Indoor Air that sought to examine the extent to which clothing and skin can absorb nicotine after exposure to cigarette smoke. Six nonsmoking male researchers sat in a room filled with tobacco smoke, generating levels similar to those found in smoking-permitted British pubs, for five hours. Four of the researchers wore only shorts, while the other two wore clean clothes. In a subsequent session a week later, two participants wore their previously nicotine-exposed clothes, while the other two immediately showered after the experience.

Contrary to what scientists previously thought, the study found that nonsmokers’ skin can absorb nicotine from cigarette smoke at a level comparable to that of inhaling it through the lungs. The nicotine can take several days to be released from the body, the researchers observed. However, showering after being in a smoke-filled room or changing into clean clothes promptly can minimize the amount of nicotine that seeps into the skin.

People Making Out For 2 Minutes

A study published in the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics in 2013 suggests that kissing could potentially provide crucial evidence to help solve crimes.

Researchers from Slovakia conducted an experiment in which they asked 12 pairs of individuals to engage in an intense kissing session for at least two minutes. They then tested the women’s saliva for male DNA immediately after the kiss, as well as 5, 10, 30, and 60 minutes later. The study found that male DNA can be detectable in a woman’s saliva as soon as 10 minutes after a kiss, and for at least 60 minutes afterward.

This information could prove useful in criminal investigations, particularly in cases of sexual assault and rape. The detection of male DNA in a victim’s saliva could help identify suspects or establish innocence, as a perpetrator may attempt to silence their victim by kissing them to prevent them from making noise. Therefore, collecting a woman’s saliva promptly after an incident could be valuable evidence in such cases.

A Researcher Let A Bee Sting Him In The Most Painful Places

In an unusual experiment, entomology professor Michael Smith discovered that bee stings can be more or less painful depending on the location on the body. Over 38 days, Smith was stung by a European honey bee on 25 different body parts, including the cheek, armpit, fingertip, backside, belly, and calf. He rated the pain level for each sting, and found that the nostrils, upper lip, and penis shaft were the three most painful areas, while the skull, tip of the middle toe, and upper arm were the least painful. Smith cautioned that because the experiment only involved one man, it is not generalizable to others, but it does provide some insight into the pain of a bee sting in different locations. The study was published in the journal PeerJ in 2014.

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