A person with normal clotting ability would have to lose nearly 40 percent of his blood immediately to die of blood loss. The arteries with this bloodletting potential, though, such as the radial artery in the arm and femoral artery in the leg, are buried under too much flesh to be nicked by even the heaviest manila cardstock. "It would be tough to kill yourself on a paper cut," says Beau Mitchell, a bleeding-disorder specialist at the New York Blood Center, an organization that supplies blood to hospitals.
A stationery slice could turn deadly, however, for the 12,600 people in the U.S. with severe hemophilia and the 200 Americans with a disorder called Glanzmann's thrombasthenia. If one of these people sliced an exposed blood vessel, like the one under the tongue, their blood would not be able to clot to plug the wound. Glanzmann's patients are especially vulnerable, Mitchell says, and could lose 25 percent of their blood within eight hours from such a cut. Without medical treatment, their bodies couldn't produce enough new blood cells to replenish those lost, and they would die within a few days.
Although people with these diseases should probably avoid licking envelope seals, we should all avoid ninjas armed with paper daggers. According to Ronald Duncan, a master of the martial art ninjitsu, anyone can fold a piece of paper, origami-style, to fashion a sharp knife. Duncan trains police officers and the military to look out for these weapons because a jab to the carotid artery in the neck could be fatal. "A few other parts of the body can bleed out in 35 seconds if someone is really adept," he says. "But we try not to make this information available to too many people."
This article originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of Popular Science magazine.
Wow!! Those are some nice statistics.
".... we should all avoid ninjas armed with paper daggers... ", thanks and good to know!
As a severe hemophiliac who has both sealed countless envelopes and sustained just as many cuts and scrapes as any other human being during my lifetime, I sincerely request that this article be edited or withdrawn lest it lead to even more people wrongfully believing the completely absurd idea that we hemophiliacs can bleed to death from a simple cut. We do face increased risks from certain activities, yes, and treatment of our disorder (please also cease to call it a disease) is complex, expensive and time consuming, but we are not the fragile paperdolls which society tends to view us as. We are just as fit and capable of pursuing any activity which a normal, blood-clotting individual engages in and statements such as "Although people with these diseases should probably avoid licking envelope seals..." do a great disservice to us, in addition to being terribly insulting. Big FAIL on this one, PopSci.
SO F'ing GAY!!!! Can any cut be deadly? POOOPSCI!
"Do not try and bend the spoon. That is impossible. Only try and realize the truth - there is no spoon."