Plan 4 Health and Fitness
  the keep fit guide


Brits Lack Anatomical Awareness

Here's a question for you: How much blood do you have in your body? The answer is between five and eight litres.

Okay, here's one that's perhaps a little bit easier: How many teeth are in your mouth? If you still have all your teeth, there should be 32 in total.

If you couldn't answer those two questions, you're not alone. Nearly half of the 2,000 participants who took part in a recent survey showed very limited knowledge of what goes on inside their bodies. In fact, many were unable to even correctly identify the location of their heart and 10 per cent were unsure of the number of kidneys we have.

What are you talking about doc?

The revealing statistics from this research come ahead of the opening of a new Museum of London exhibition exploring the relationship between sinister Resurrection Men and pioneering anatomical surgeons in early 19th century London. Resurrection men were basically body snatchers who sold corpses for dissection or anatomy lectures in medical schools...

Back in Victorian times, some doctors were prepared to take extreme measures to increase their understanding of the human body... they gained experience and fine-tuned their skills by working on stolen corpses or by practicing on living patients. And so began a gruesome trade. Body-snatchers stalked the city's graveyards to supply fresh corpses for medical dissection.

So, I guess it's rather sobering to know that in the 21st century, many of us mere mortals still struggle with basic biology... Not that I'm suggesting, of course, that any of us visit a graveyard to find out what's going on with our innards.

Here are some of the answers the participants struggled to answer accurately:

Only 50 per cent could correctly identify the heart's location in the left-centre of the chest;

60 per cent could not name their own blood type;

75 per cent were stumped when it came to guessing how many bones are in the adult human body. There are 206;

74 per cent did not know that the liver is our biggest internal organ but thought that a single lung was much larger;

47 per cent couldn't get anywhere near to guessing the healthy temperature of the human body, which is 37C;

Just under 10 per cent didn't know that we have two kidneys;

More than 50 per cent didn't know that the gall bladder is located behind the liver on the right side of the rib cage;

18 per cent thought a visor was a type of tooth (it's a surface that protects the eyes).

I guess since we are living in times where doctors sometimes appear to care less about a patient's health and more about pushing drugs, it's up to us to know some basic facts about our own bodies... especially when you consider this comment I stumbled across on a doctor's forum relating to the results of this survey:

"I'm not sure why knowing your blood type is so important. Even when I do blood group a patient I don't usually tell them what their blood type is unless they ask." So there you have it, your doctor may know... but probably won't bother to tell you.

Yet, knowing this information could save your life, especially as according to the results of a recent study, carried out at Brigham and Women's Hospital, researchers believe blood type can be tied to an increased risk of stroke. The researchers found that men and women who had type AB blood had about a 25 per cent increased chance of having a stroke. Women who had type B blood had a 15 per cent increased risk. So, knowing your blood type could definitely help you put measures in place to reduce your risk of stroke.