A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

If you eat too many carrots will you turn orange?

March 25, 1977

Dear Cecil:

Is it true that by eating almost nothing but carrots and drinking carrot juice you can turn orangish in color? Is there a medical name for this?

Cecil replies:

Yup. "Carotene" is the red or yellow hydrocarbon pigment that gives carrots their characteristic cheery color, and also helps to brighten up egg yolks, sweet potatoes, and a variety of leafy vegetables. Intemperate carrot consumption will make the carotene build up in your bloodstream. Before you know it, your skin will take on a sickly yellow pallor, a grisly condition that superficially resembles jaundice. You've got carotenosis, you poor sap, and good luck to you. Fatal cases are rare, if that's any comfort: a London woman died from the disease in 1972, but she had to work at it.

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