There are plenty of haunted houses, ghost stories and scary movies out there to evoke goosebumps around Halloween. But did you know that some of the day-to-day goings-on in your own body are enough to make your skin crawl?
Kicking off the “creepy but true” list is a sobering thought: you are only 10 percent human.
No, it’s not some dystopian future of cyborgs and androids; it’s microscopic organisms. Your body is so bacteria-filled that human cells are outnumbered by a whopping 10-to-1 margin.
“We’re a minority in our own body,” said OMRF President Dr. Stephen Prescott, a physician and medical researcher. “We’ve known for a long time that these bacteria exist in us, but the staggering scale of it has only been recognized over the past decade or more.”
Even though there are roughly 100 trillion of these tiny visitors inside us, there’s no need to be scared. The vast majority of these microorganisms are friends, not foes.
“Most of the bacteria play a role in keeping you healthy, and the more diverse the collection, the healthier you are,” said Hal Scofield, M.D., a member of OMRF’s Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Research Program. “They might sound like something you don’t want inside you, but without them, you wouldn’t be around.”
The next entry might have you reaching for a Swiffer. Humans shed 600,000 skin particles per hour on average, or roughly 105 pounds of dead skin by the time they reach age 70.
“It’s said that every 10 years your mattress doubles in weight. I don’t know if that’s true, but it definitely gets heavier, and those extra pounds are likely skin cells. In fact, almost all dust in your house is human skin,” said Scofield.
Gross? Yes. But necessary.
The body requires the protection these skin, or epithelial, cells provide. They’re constantly exposed to the elements, and because they cover so much space, sloughing them off a bit at a time is the only way they can regenerate while still serving as a safeguard for everything inside of us.
Last of all, have you ever wondered how far blood actually can spurt from your body? All the old slasher flicks seem to paint a pretty gory picture, with blood spraying forcefully across a room when a villain does his evil deeds. But is that just shock value for the sake of horror?
“Hollywood isn’t too far off when it comes to gore potential,” said Scofield. “Your blood circulates through your entire body in just about a minute, and the heart itself is powerful enough to shoot blood as far as 30 feet.”
So, reality could trump Hollywood, given the right circumstances, because there’s no shortage of peculiar processes at work in your own body.
“If you’re in the mood to get grossed out this Halloween, you need not look much further than a few medical textbooks or journals. Or just look in the mirror and think about what’s going on inside you,” said Prescott. “That can be pretty scary in itself.”