A recent viral article from the BBC has people everywhere checking themselves for "horns," or bone spurs.
The article, titled "How Modern Life Is Transforming The Human Skeleton," described subtle ways the human skeleton is adapting to our modern lifestyles.
Many simply latched on to the description of young people developing enthesophytes, or bony protuberances, at the base of their skulls.
These bone deposits are a bit more common among older people but have, until recently, been rare in younger folks.
David Shahar, health scientist at the University of The Sunshine Coast in Australia, noted that he has only seen this feature in his patients recently.
"I have been a clinician for 20 years, and only in the last decade, increasingly I have been discovering that my patients have this growth on the skull."
The human head is quite heavy, and the particular posture associated with mobile device use places those heavy heads in an awkward position, possibly contributing to this condition.
Shahar thinks that the development of these extra bits of bone may be our bodies' way of handling the extra wear and tear on our necks.
The study, done by Sahar and fellow biomechanics expert Mark Sayers, examined x-rays of the head and necks of 1,200 people aged 18-86 from the same chiropractic clinic.
Sahar and Sayers examined a point at the back of the skull that anchors one of the ligaments that helps us hold our head up, called the external occipital protuberance, or EOP.
They found that males were more than 5 times more likely to have an enlarged EOP, and a follow up study in 2016 with a smaller sample confirmed this.
Their studies did not directly attribute this enlargement to mobile device use, however.
@amywebb No it isn't terrifying. No more than the way that habitually wearing shoes narrows the feet is terrifying.… https://t.co/dtZ6om1j2Z— Brett Dunbar (@Brett Dunbar) 1561061109.0
Weird to say, but I was honestly waiting for something like this to happen. Phone use is such a dominant part of ou… https://t.co/oQChsQ38um— Hafsa Quraishi (@Hafsa Quraishi) 1561063160.0
Contrary to what many are saying on social media, mobile device use isn't the only thing that can cause these particular bone deposits.
Strongmen from the Mariana Islands, who often carry heavy weights on poles held across their shoulders, also tend to have these growths.
Are millennials really growing horns from using their phones? Short answer: no. https://t.co/IjMKcWXBCB— John Hawks (@John Hawks) 1561059742.0
It is believed that they develop to help support strong neck and shoulder muscles the men develop from carrying the weights.
Some on social media reacted quite strongly to the possibility of developing bone spurs.
@hafiisaa nope nope nope I am freaked out— Amanda Morris (@Amanda Morris) 1561064685.0
@AmandaMoMorris This is not to say I’m not freaked out, because I am!!! I also have been feeling pains in my right… https://t.co/X84swkCowl— Hafsa Quraishi (@Hafsa Quraishi) 1561064787.0
Some mentioned some of the other detriments that can result from regular technology use.
@AmandaMoMorris @hafiisaa I don't want to have a horn. I already have the beginnings of what we call "silicon vall… https://t.co/x6lywi0a1A— Margaret McGraw (@Margaret McGraw) 1561124920.0
Others decided humor was the way to go.
@AmandaMoMorris @hafiisaa https://t.co/wseKMTc7Tk— jumpy231 🌏 (@jumpy231 🌏) 1561086237.0
@johnhawks That's a bummer. I was hoping I'd turn out like hellboy https://t.co/BEztqEqmi7— Vincenzo Battista (@Vincenzo Battista) 1561060509.0
@johnhawks It's a pity https://t.co/D9YM7ffOhs— Joseba Rios-Garaizar (@Joseba Rios-Garaizar) 1561060113.0
This is a great example of the importance of having all the facts before jumping to conclusions.
There is a definite possibility that cell phone use may well be contributing to this condition, but there are also many other environmental factors that may be involved.
The bottom line, however, is that nobody is going to be growing a set of horns any time soon.
But if you had your heart set on horns, you can get them with headphones!
You can with the unicorn, available here.
Or go a little more devilish, with devil horn headphones, available here.
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