Smoking can make your nipples fall off, and other unexpected dinner conversations.
Our kids are not afraid to bring up irregular topics at the dinner table. This is why we were not surprised when Meredith asked if it is true that smokers’ nipples can turn purple and fall off.
There is a good chance I just lost my blog’s G-rating, but at least it’s for a cause.
What’s the cause?
Jeff and I tell our kids over and over that they need to know the facts behind their “facts”, that the internet is an awesome information resource, but like anything else, it is also full of half-truths, fallacies, and out-and-out lies.
Not wanting Meredith to tackle this particular research on her own, and wanting to encourage Jeff to continue in his efforts to quit smoking, I pulled out my iPhone and googled the nipple conundrum between bites. Turns out her fact is actually true, but as Paul Harvey would say, “…here’s the rest of the story.”
Plastic Surgeon Anthony Youn, M.D. warns smokers who undergo breast lift surgery that they are at risk of losing their nipples. This is due to a reaction of the cigarette’s nicotine and the carbon monoxide, which can diminish blood flow to the nipples. As with any other body part, if blood flow is reduced or stopped, that body part turns purple, then black, and eventually falls off.
Even more interesting, in Youn’s memoir, “In Stitches”, he tells the story of how he saved a patient’s nipples from imminent death with the use of leeches.
If you think the initial conversation caught the kids’ attention, imagine how intrigued they were to wrap their minds around the thought of a modern day surgeon using leeches. Apparently the leeches suck out the old backup blood so the body part can grow new blood vessels.
Gross, yet very cool.
It also led to a conversation about other uses for leeches in modern medicine.
While Jeff and I like to think we have trained our children to be internet-savvy, honing the skill to spot inaccuracies, and not to take everything for face value, we fully understand that learning to navigate the internet wisely is an ongoing process. We continue to emphasize that not everything they read online is true, and to teach them how to seek out reliable sources.
Which is why they now know that truth about smoking and nipple-loss, and why I had to give up my G-rating to share it with you.