PDA

View Full Version : What's up with chewing ice as a symptom of anemia?


Chairman Pow
01-19-2005, 10:23 PM
I understand that chewing ice is a symptom of anemia. What is the cause of this?

samclem
01-19-2005, 10:26 PM
Hey! Were you hiding under the table when I had breakfast with a lady on Sunday? :eek:

She was sucking down the ice, and told me this same thing. Wozzer!.

Let's go, dopers.

Gaudere
01-19-2005, 11:00 PM
Pica is when people eat non-food objects, usually from a deficiency in their diet. I have usually heard it is the body's effort to find the nutrients it is missing by eating anything near it. Ice won't have much/any, but clay/dirt, which are often eaten, may.

lisacurl
01-19-2005, 11:15 PM
I'm not trying to all anecdotal data here, but I've chewed ice all my life and have never had any sort of anemia. In fact, my blood is so healthy that the blood bank calls me constantly to donate.

I've never heard that about chewing ice... what possible benefit could that provide for someone with anemia? All I could think that it would do is slightly lower your body temperature and maybe provide a bit of hydration.

Elenfair
01-19-2005, 11:36 PM
I'm not sure *why*, exactly, but it IS indeed a symptom of anemia. The name for it is pagophagia - if you google that, you may find more info...

There are also some articles on the matter listed on PubMed...

KarlGauss
01-19-2005, 11:50 PM
I've been searching for references and sources for a while now. Nada.

I'm pretty confident that the mechanism of iron-deficiency associated pagophagia is a complete mystery.

aruvqan
01-19-2005, 11:58 PM
So pica is why my body goes into eat anything that doesnt get away just before my period? Honestly, about 3 days before I start I have the most intense food cravings, but absolutely nothing seems to be what my body needs. I have grazed meats thinking it was for the iron [mmmmm duck hearts sauted in butter and deglazed with a good bullsblood wine] I have grazed fruits [ranging from an absolute mango and papaya fest, a navel orange fest, and a dried mixed fruit fest. I was *really* regular after that one...] and I have done veggie fests [ranging from eating one of those mixed veggie platters from a grocery store but without that nasty dip - a nice balsamic olive oil vinaigrette, through baked potatoes, an incredible artichoke gorge, a garlic festival and a raw cabbage feast.]

About the one thing I find helps slightly is a 3 liter of [diet] cola, and I *hate* soda :(

Enright3
01-20-2005, 01:01 AM
I'm not trying to all anecdotal data here, but I've chewed ice all my life and have never had any sort of anemia. In fact, my blood is so healthy that the blood bank calls me constantly to donate.

I've never heard that about chewing ice... what possible benefit could that provide for someone with anemia? All I could think that it would do is slightly lower your body temperature and maybe provide a bit of hydration.
If you have anemia you probably have a craving to chew ice. (I know my wife sure did!) I don't think anyone ever claimed that the reverse is true (That if you chew ice you must be anemic)

JavaMaven1
01-20-2005, 02:02 AM
So pica is why my body goes into eat anything that doesnt get away just before my period? Honestly, about 3 days before I start I have the most intense food cravings, but absolutely nothing seems to be what my body needs. I have grazed meats thinking it was for the iron [mmmmm duck hearts sauted in butter and deglazed with a good bullsblood wine] I have grazed fruits [ranging from an absolute mango and papaya fest, a navel orange fest, and a dried mixed fruit fest. I was *really* regular after that one...] and I have done veggie fests [ranging from eating one of those mixed veggie platters from a grocery store but without that nasty dip - a nice balsamic olive oil vinaigrette, through baked potatoes, an incredible artichoke gorge, a garlic festival and a raw cabbage feast.]

About the one thing I find helps slightly is a 3 liter of [diet] cola, and I *hate* soda :(


No, not exactly. Pica is specifically craving non-food items, such as clay, candle wax, aluminum foil, ashes, etc. It most typically happens with young children and pregnant women, where there may be a mineral deficiency in their diet.

Mangetout
01-20-2005, 02:54 AM
Pica is when people eat non-food objects, usually from a deficiency in their diet. I have usually heard it is the body's effort to find the nutrients it is missing by eating anything near it. Ice won't have much/any, but clay/dirt, which are often eaten, may.I thought this view had been largely dismissed.

Excalibre
01-20-2005, 06:57 AM
Pica is when people eat non-food objects, usually from a deficiency in their diet. I have usually heard it is the body's effort to find the nutrients it is missing by eating anything near it. Ice won't have much/any, but clay/dirt, which are often eaten, may.
The thing is, the cravings do not generally satisfy the deficiency. My aunt, when she was in medical school and didn't have time to eat right, developed iron deficiency anemia. She got incredible urges to eat carrots, and did things like buy packages of them and eat an entire bag before she got home from the store. Thing is, carrots don't have any particularly large amount of iron (and I think she ended up slightly jaundiced from the excessive amounts of vitamin A in the carrots.) Ice, paint chips, etc. don't generally satisfy the body's mineral needs. So it's got to be some other mechanism.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.