In 2018, the story of Courtney Whithorn's thumb amputation caused fright among readers. Indeed, many British tabloids, like The Sun and Mail Online, reported that the young woman got skin cancer from biting her nails...
A number of articles regarding this preposterous story claimed that the acral lentiginous subungual melanoma the young woman suffered from was directly linked to her bad habit.
In 2014, Courtney Whithorn, who was being bullied at school, would bite her nails to ease her anxiety. She explained:
I didn’t even realize that I had totally bitten my entire thumb nail off until I saw blood on my hand. I bit the nail off four years ago and I was obviously very self-conscious of how black it was.
In 2018, after hiding her unsightly thumb from her loved ones for 4 years, she decided to see a doctor when it turned black. The biopsy revealed that the young woman needed to undergo surgery immediately and have her thumb amputated.
Fact or fiction?
20 Minutes looked into the matter, and have concluded from their investigation that 'no, biting your nails does not cause melanoma.'
Although one of the young Briton's doctors maintains that her acral lentiginous melanoma is linked to her bad habit, Laurence Ollivaud, an onco-dermatologist interviewed by 20 Minutes, denies this causality:
The only possible explanation is that she waited too long to have the black spot, which was already a melanoma, checked out. Trauma [in this case, losing a nail] cannot cause melanoma either. The only risk factor is sun exposure.
Edith Duhard, another dermatologist interviewed by 20 Minutes supports this thesis, further explaining:
Based on the photos you can see in the articles, she already had a black streak before she lost her nail. The bleeding may have hidden it, but she already had a melanoma that continued to grow: hiding it didn't help.
You can see the shocking images of the young woman's diseased nail in the video above. Viewer discretion is advised.