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Supertasters Beware! 3-D Taste Buds May Lead To Colon Cancer

Supertasters have extra taste buds on their tongues making eating much more intense, but having super-sensitive taste buds isn't all it's cracked up to be...

Woman walks through giant colon exhibit.

Photo: leonardo.bonanni (Flickr)

A recent study found that supertasters over the age of sixty-five have more colon polyps than people who aren't equipped with such sensitive taste buds.

You may have heard of supertasters. These are people who, it was discovered, are carrying around extra taste buds on their tongues, making the world of eating much more intense.

It’s not at all an unusual thing: the latest data suggest that one out of every four people is a supertaster. For them, eating is a much richer, more  flavorful experience than for the rest of us.

Dangers Of The ‘Technicolor Tongue’

Still, before you get too jealous if you’re not a supertaster, it turns out there are drawbacks to having a technicolor tongue. A study that looks specifically at supertasters over the age of sixty-five found they have more colon polyps than folks who aren’t so taste bud gifted.

Colon polyps are the things you want to have removed before they become cancerous, which is why all folks fifty and older should get a yearly colon exam.

Polyps: A Result Of Weight Gain?

Why do supertasters have more colon polyps? It isn’t known. But supertasters also weigh more on average than non-supertasters, and weight increases cancer risk. The reason for this may be as simple as it sounds: eating is more fun when you taste in 3-D.

Some researchers think, however, that the problem may not just be an increase in pleasure. Those extra taste buds may also drive people away from food that’s good for them, such as vegetables, because the taste of, say, a brussels sprout is just too intense.

Mother nature blesses some of us with a more sensitive palate. But that extra tongue comes with an extra need to count calories–and even to eat your broccoli, no matter how it tastes.

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