Gross out?

Gross out?

Britt Norlander

Why is this guy trying to pass as a human pincushion? To secure a spot in the Guinness World Records 2003, Garry Turner of Lincolnshire, England, clipped 153 clothespins to his face.

Turner can out-clip his competitors because of a rare condition that makes his skin super stretchy. That means he can pinch tiny pieces of skin to attach each clothespin. Luckily, his skin is not only stretchy but also elastic. When he removes the pins, his skin–like a rubber band–snaps back to its original shape.

About one in 20,000 people have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), the genetic (inherited) disease that makes Turner’s skin so pliable. There are many different types of EDS, and scientists aren’t sure exactly what causes each form. But they believe that a gene mutation (change in DNA) is to blame. This mutation affects the body’s ability to make collagen, a fibrous protein that builds a framework of connective tissue in skin, bones, cartilage (bone-connecting tissue), and tendons (tissues that connect muscles to bones). “Either there isn’t enough collagen or the collagen that’s made is abnormal,” says Melanie Pepin, a genetic counselor at the University of Washington.

When collagen is missing or defective, body parts where connective tissue is most important, such as skin, joints, and blood vessels, behave abnormally. In the most dangerous–and rarest–type of EDS, weak blood vessels can suddenly burst. This can be life-threatening, and people with this form may die in their 30s or 40s. Luckily, Turner doesn’t have a life-threatening type of EDS, and he isn’t at risk of developing a dangerous form, says Pepin.

In addition to breaking world records, Turner enjoys performing tricks like “the turtleneck.” He stretches his neck skin and pulls It up over his mouth. Now that’s a fashion statement!

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