Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Asparagus

I have never eaten much asparagus. On monday night, though, I cooked some and thoroughly enjoyed it. One strange thing happened after I ate it- this might be gross- but I noticed my pee smelled strange. At first, I didn't know what to think. There was this strong unusual odor. Then I remembered my mom mentioning one time that Asparagus can make your pee smell different. So I, being somewhat science minded, decided to do a little research on the topic. I googled it. This is what I discovered:
Asparagus contains a sulfur compound called mercaptan, a compound which is also found in rotten eggs, garlic, and skunk spray. When this compound is broken down, other sulfur products are released, and these get filtered into the urine, which is what makes them smell. However, not everyone who eats asparagus notices the smell. So for a while, people thought that a part of the population lacked some enzyme that broke down mercaptan into the compounds that make the urine smell. Then someone got this bright idea: they got people whose urine did smell to smell the urine of the non-smelly urine group. (Hopefully they paid them well for this.) And apparently, those whose urine smelled could also smell the same scent in the urine of those whose urine supposedly didn't smell. So now the big debate is whether there could also be some kind of genetic difference that causes some people to be able to smell it, and some not.
Jeff and I decided that I apparently have a very strong sense of smell. Perhaps if I were a superhero, that is what my superpower would be: keen smell. Maybe I should make a costume with a nose emblem on it. You could call me SuperSniff or the human hound dog. During the day I will be Dr. Tell, a mild mannered physician, but when I smell trouble....it's Supersniff to the rescue.

3 comments:

Peter said...

The other day we had an activity here and a several med students were part of the group (med school starts undergrad here and runs straight for about 7 years). When we were eating after having visited the ex-convent next door, complete with cool looking monkish mummies, they couldn't seem to stop talking about biological things, and they also seemed to have a blunted sense of how others might squirm at their cadaverous conversations. Have you noticed that effect, too, SuperSniff? :)

Jeff said...

Welcome to my world, Pete, welcome to my world.

Aubrey said...

I must admit that we med students are prone to somewhat gross conversations that are not always appropriate for everyone to hear. I know I just sometimes get quite excited about what I'm learning or things I've seen. But I will apologize for all med students for when we aren't the most tactful with our conversations.