Real-life ‘X-men’ present surprising genetic anomalies and ‘superhuman’ abilities

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As you watch the X-Men punch and kick on movie screens across the country, another kind of mutant might be sitting right next to you, munching popcorn. The medical literature is peppered with tales of these nonfiction mutants: People whose genetic mutations give them unbreakable bones or incredible flexibility or eye-popping strength.

Throughout his career, Finnish skier Eero Mäntyranta was suspected of blood doping because his red blood cell count was 20 percent higher than that of other athletes. But scientists later discovered that a mutated gene gave Mäntyranta and 50 members of his family high sensitivity to the hormone erythropoietin, or EPO.

Normally, EPO steps up red blood cell production during exertion, bringing in more oxygen to keep the muscles going. For Mäntyranta, this process was accelerated, so his body overproduced hemoglobin. With deeply reddened skin and a higher-than-normal blood-oxygen capacity, Mäntyranta won seven Olympic medals (three gold) in the 1960s.

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Read full, original post: X-Men, step aside: Check out real-life mutants with these 5 amazing superpowers

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