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Dr. Manny: Can a human spontaneously combust? I say, ‘No way’

Parents of an infant boy in India have claimed that their son has spontaneously caught on fire four times since he was born on May 22.  Doctors treating the child believe he may have what is known as spontaneous human combustion (SHC), a condition in which the excretion of gases causes the body to catch fire.

However, over a dozen tests have been performed on the baby boy, Rahul, and his vital functions appear to be working normally.

Though doctors say Rahul must still undergo a skin biopsy, I think that all this talk about spontaneous combustions is a bunch of smoke and mirrors.  One thing I can tell you for sure is there is no scientific way a human being can suddenly burst into flames.

There are medical conditions that can create areas of devascularization in the skin, which may mimic burned flesh.  But actual flames protruding from the human body in a spontaneous way? No way, José.

According to Dr. Jayaraman, former head of the plastic surgery department at Government Kilpauk Medical College Hospital where Rahul is being treated, health and lifestyle factors such as smoking and inadequate hydration could cause spontaneous human combustion.  Doc, you have to go back to medical school, because that chapter was not in my textbooks.  

Jayaraman also said a condition called ketosis, which occurs due to alcoholism, or a low-carbohydrate diet could also create spontaneous combustion.  About 25 percent of my diabetic patients experience ketosis, and there aren’t pregnant women blowing up on the streets of Manhattan.

I know that there have been so-called isolated reports of people spontaneously combusting, but all of these cases have been mere anecdotes.  Also these incidents occurred in people’s homes and certainly no one has seen these events or taken pictures of them.

So until someone shows me a YouTube video or I see someone spontaneously combust with my own eyes, I would have to say this is all a hoax.  In regards to this young boy, I hope he is taken care of in the hospital and that the authorities investigate whether or not this child suffered from any abuse in his home.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's Senior Managing Editor for Health News. Prior to this position, Alvarez was a FNC medical contributor.
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