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Does this strawberry remind you of an inflamed cervix? If so, you may be doctor. Medicine has a long, but fading, tradition of naming medical conditions after foods, a medical journal article says. / Roxana Ro, iStockphoto, via Getty Images

You have no doubt heard of the beer belly, the apple-shaped figure and the port-wine birthmark.

But if you also know about the strawberry cervix, the watermelon stomach and the blueberry muffin rash, you just may be a doctor. A fading tradition of naming medical conditions after food and drink has helped generations of physicians-in-training learn their stuff, says Ritu Lakhtakia, a pathologist at Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman.

In an article published Wednesday in the journal Medical Humanities, Lakhtakia lists 46 medical terms with culinary roots. Among the lesser-known:

? Strawberry cervix: A cervix that looks like a speckled red strawberry is a sign of trichomonas infection.

? Watermelon stomach: A rare condition in which the lining of the stomach bleeds, causing it to look like a striped watermelon.

? Blueberry muffin rash: The characteristic rash seen in infants with congenital rubella (also known as German measles).

? Chocolate cyst: An ovarian cyst filled with dark-brown liquid.

? Rice-water stools: Watery diarrhea caused by cholera.

? Spaghetti and meatballs: How a fungal skin infection called tinea versicolor looks under a microscope.

? Anchovy sauce: Dark-brown pus from a liver abscess caused by an amoeba.

"The non-medical reader may perceive this usage variably as amusing, bizarre or even revolting," Lakhtakia said in an e-mail. But, she added: "These metaphors at no stage belittle the patient's suffering. They are aimed at improving the learning process of a budding physician" and making medical education a little more "alive and stimulating."

But why food? Humans, in general, are obsessed with it, she notes. And maybe busy medical writers and researchers are especially hungry, she writes in the journal.

As medical science becomes more precise and data-driven - providing, for example, exact measurements of tumors once described as peanut-, walnut- or lemon-size - such terms are, "distressingly," fading away, she writes.



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: Why your medical condition may be named after a food

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