It may sound like something from science fiction or a fantasy novel, but a report has determined that one specific area on the island of Ireland is a “hotspot” for super-tall people. Here’s a rundown of the findings, health risks, and more.
The study was carried out by scientists and has revealed a “giant hotspot” in Northern Ireland.
What this means is a specific area in the North is home to a large population of those who carry a rare gene mutation that causes them to grow much taller than the average human.
While one in 2,000 people carry this unusual gene on mainland UK, one in 150 people carry it in this “hotspot” in Northern Ireland.
The ancient gene, which dates back some 2,500 years to the Iron Age, was tested using saliva samples in County Tyrone, resulting in the proof that this mid-Ulster part of Ireland is a hotspot for super-tall people.
Although we all know and love the tale of the “friendly giant,” the health risks that carriers of this mutant gene face are serious. While four out of five carriers will not experience any major side effects, the remainder faces many harsh realities.
The unlucky few who do happen to carry this gene and experience its side effects are at risk of heart failure and haemorrhage, the report reveals.
“If you are seven feet tall, your heart has to pump harder to get the blood up another couple of feet to your brain, so these people get heart failure more easily,” Professor Patrick Morrison, former president of the Ulster Medical Society, explains.
Headaches are a common kickback, too. These headaches spawn from a small gland below the brain that is responsible for materialising the “giant” gene. This gland enables its victims to grow to excessive heights by releasing wild amounts of hormones, far more than the human body needs.
Due to the gland’s location (close to the eye socket), victims of this gene can suffer severe vision loss as well. Common effects include larger-than-normal feet and hands, but only five to ten percent of those who experience side effects will become “giant-like.”
If the gene mutation is found early enough in life, it can be treated by using certain medicines, or by methods that can slow the growth of these hormones. Brain surgery is also a possible treatment for this potentially life-threatening plight.
In the media
If you look back in history, there have been signs that this part of Ireland is a hotspot for super-tall people. For example, a Tyrone man named Charles Byrne from Drumullan made the headlines in the 18th century for his exceptionally large stature.
Growing to a whopping 7 feet and 7 inches, Byrne towered over standard-sized folk and was the star of the Cox’s Museum freak show.
Sadly, however, Byrne took to drinking at a young age and died prematurely. Although his departing wish was to be buried at sea, his gigantic skeleton now resides at a London museum for all to see.