Rare Diseases That Give People Superhero-Like Abilities
Here are some rare diseases that indirectly give people superpowers.Science
At one point, we’ve all dreamt of being a superhero with awesome powers such as time-traveling or super-strength. But what if I told you there are people with superpowers? Yes, they exist but their powers come with a heavy price: disease. In this article, we will investigate rare diseases that indirectly give people superhero-like abilities.
10. Superhuman Strength
You can become extremely strong if you have Myostatin-Related Muscle Hypertrophy. It’s a rare genetic condition characterized by reduced body fat and increased skeletal muscle size. This means that people with this condition can have up to twice the usual amount of muscle mass in their bodies.
And of course, the more muscle mass you have, the stronger you are! So strong that it may even be considered abnormal but, whoever said having superpowers is normal? Take this story of Liam Hoekstra! Born in 2005, this young fellow from Michigan did an iron cross at five months old!
Most kids can’t even walk properly at five months, but this young fellow was getting physical. At 3 years old, Liam had 40% body muscle, which is practically unheard of for any child his age.
What’s even crazier is that he has the same appetite as people pumping iron! He apparently loves ice cream and KFC and has no problem devouring a plateful. This can be attributed to his massive muscle growth and you’ll be happy to hear he’s been putting this to good use! In 2015, he won his division in the annual paczki eating contest at his local church.
9. Insensible to Pain
Next up is the power of being immune to pain! Well, not immune to it but rather, insensible to it. There are people in this world that possess the ability to not feel any kind of pain at all!
While it’s technically not a superpower, the condition responsible for this is called Congenital Analgesia. In simple terms, it’s a condition that inhibits your ability to perceive physical pain. And like some of the superpowers you see in comic books, this condition is present at birth. So people who are born with this condition don’t feel any pain at all for their entire lives!
While it may seem like a pretty cool “superpower”, it does have some cons. For instance, people with this condition can feel the difference between sharp and dull, hot and cold, but can’t sense when the coffee’s burning their tongue or when a nail pierces their foot.
That means that they’re not aware that they’re hurt when in reality, their body is going through serious harm. So if you have this condition and your body gets stabbed, you won’t feel the pain but that doesn’t remove the fact that you might actually die.
8. Absence of Fear
If you’re a scared cat and jump at any monster you see in the movies, then you might’ve thought having the ability to not feel fear is a dream you wish that came true. However, for some people not feeling fear is a reality. And it's the result of Urbach-Wiethe disease.
People who have this condition have been reported carrying out extreme acts of “courage” such as happily reaching for venomous snakes with their bare hands. Any average person would freak out during those scenarios, but not these people.; they’re fearless.
While it may sound like a cool power to have, it has a huge catch like most powers in this list. This condition occurs because the part of the brain that controls emotions - the amygdala - hardens and shrivels up.
The amygdala is mostly responsible for making us feel fear, and without it, the ability to perceive fear is pretty much alien to them. People with this condition have been reported to experience abnormal voice changes, lesions on their faces, and thickening of the skin.
It’s also been reported that people with this condition experience seizures and may be intellectually disabled. You may not feel fear, but the downside is also huge.
7. Savant Syndrome: Learning Anything
There are extremely gifted people in this world that have the ability to learn anything. A lot of these extremely talented individuals have a condition called Savant syndrome.
It’s a rare condition wherein someone with significant mental disabilities is extremely gifted in certain abilities, significantly more gifted than any average person! While photographic memory is one skill that most people with the condition have, it’s not the only one.
Some can solve complex mathematical equations in an instant, and some have artistic abilities that rival those of Michelangelo and Picasso. Lots of notable people have had this disease, including Kim Peek, who had an exceptional memory and could accurately recall the contents of at least 12,000 books.
While they're indeed gifted way beyond the average person, they have mental conditions that may make life difficult for them. Generally speaking, those with the condition have brain damage and about half of them are autistic or otherwise known as “autistic savants”.
However, that doesn’t take away their superhuman skills, and with only a few hundred of them around the world, it’s a superpower they should be proud of having!
6. Vampire Disorder
They’re afraid of sunlight, have razor-sharp teeth, and are extremely pale. Vampires, you may have thought. But you'd be wrong since these people have Hypohidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia; a disorder that results in the abnormal development of structures including the skin, hair, nails, teeth, and sweat glands.
Their teeth are normally absent or malformed, and they’re hypersensitive to sunlight because they have fewer sweat glands than normal. While it may sound cool, this disease makes life extremely difficult.
Every time people with this condition go out of the house and into the sunlight, it endangers them so they need to wear sunscreen and protective gear. That means they can’t even experience the beach because of the hot weather! What’s even harder is that because they look like vampires, other people tend to make fun of them.
5. Stone Man Syndrome
Being like The Thing from The Fantastic Four may seem cool but, in real life, it’s a real problem. Stone Man Syndrome, technically called Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, is an extremely rare genetic connective tissue disease that progresses through life.
Simply put, the condition causes damaged soft tissue to regrow as bone. Not only that, but joints fuse together, making it extremely painful for people to move. Currently, there's no cure and one in every 2 million people have it.
While it may initially sound great, as if you could gain extra natural protection around your body, joints may become permanently frozen in place, and you can't just surgically remove extra bone growths because the body tends to "repair" the affected area with even more bone.
4. Polymelia: Multiple limbs
Ever dreamt of having an extra limb or two? Or maybe even four? It sure would be helpful in life if you could function them effectively, but some people don’t need to dream because for them it’s a reality!
Being born with multiple limbs is usually due to a birth defect called polymelia, also known as hydra syndrome. Though it does sound appealing to have an extra pair of fingers or even two extra pairs of legs, the extra limb is most commonly shrunken or deformed! Although sometimes the limbs may be useful and functioning, in most cases, they’re useless and often seen as a hassle.
3. Insensitivity to Cold
You won’t be Iceman from the X-Men, but this has to be the closest thing to it! Very few people in the world have the ability to be completely insensitive to the cold! Though not technically a disease, it's most definitely a superpower in its own right. Most notably is Wim Hof from the Netherlands.
Wim holds 26 world records, including one for the longest ice bath, at 72 minutes and the fastest barefoot half-marathon in history at 136 minutes. Not only that but he swims under frozen lakes!
Doctors still can’t find the reason for this, but Wim only has one answer to it, and that’s resistance training. He practices a number of breathing techniques and came up with the Wim Hof Method.
Hof claims his method can treat or help alleviate symptoms of illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, diabetes, clinical depression and cancer. I guess you can do anything as long as you put your mind to it!
2. Super Memory
People with Hyperthymesia can recall almost every day of their lives in near-perfect detail. There are only around 60 people in the world that have this condition and they say that they can remember details as far back as their childhood!
While it may seem like a cool condition, there’s always a catch. Because of their extraordinary memory, they remember everything. Even their bad memories!
Apart from that, constant headaches and fatigue are common symptoms as well. Remembering everything is cool, but it’s tough when you can’t forget the bad moments.
Before we reach number 1, here's an honorable mention: HIV resistant people! It’s real and it’s backed by science, but not as you’d expect. Some fortunate people have a genetic mutation that disables their copy of the CCR5 protein, which is the protein used by the HIV virus as a doorway into human cells.
So, if you don’t have a CCR5 protein in your body, then HIV can’t enter it! Not only that, but some people have been reported to have two copies of the gene mutation, which doubles their resistance to the deadly virus.
This is extremely rare among people around the world. Only about 1 percent of Caucasians have two copies of the gene mutation, and it’s even rarer in other ethnicities. That being said, human evolution has taken a big step in battling viruses around us! This makes us wonder what viruses humans will be immune to in the next hundred years.
1. The Super-Sleeper Mutation: hDEC2
This one is dedicated to everyone who loves to lay in bed all night! Most people need at least 8 hours of sleep every night. And that’s just to feel great! However, there are natural short sleepers out there who only need ONLY four hours of sleep to feel good!
People with the super-sleeper mutation, hDEC2, feel completely energized on just four to six hours of sleep every night, and that’s a superpower in itself because they don't need a ton of coffee to stay awake. Otherwise known as “short-sleepers”, these people are usually happy and energetic, which means that they can work more than the average human being.
Some people with the condition work two jobs not because they must, but because they can. They’re highly motivated and they have the time to do so because 4 hours of sleep means you have 20 hours in a day! And if you thought that was crazy, then you should hear about Thái Ngọc - he's a super-non-sleeper.
According to Vietnamese news organization Thanh Niên, he has been awake for over 45 years. Sounds interesting, but Ngoc reported that he was beginning to feel "like a plant without water" due to his lack of sleep.
I hope you were amazed by these real-life superpowers. Thanks for reading!