I am a 33-year-old married mother of one. I have what I feel is an embarrassing and possibly life-threatening disorder. Some years ago I was diagnosed as being anemic. The iron level was so low that the doctor asked if I ate or craved anything unusual. I told him that I crave and chew ice quite often. The doctor explained that this was a pica and I should stop chewing the ice because it was affecting my body’s ability to absorb iron. What I did not tell the doctor is that I crave and chew plain white paper (typing paper). I have done this since I was a teenager and chew about 2 pages per day. I have never discussed this problem with anyone.
Can you help me with my questions: Have you ever heard of pica and of someone craving paper? Is this detrimental to my health? I fear that I have a large quantity of paper or chemicals stored somewhere in my body as a result of this disorder? Is there anything I can do to stop the paper and ice cravings?
Check out the second to last question in children topic as it deals with pica. You have iron deficiency anemia and need to take iron supplements with vitamin C to remedy the anemia which is causing the pica (eating ice and paper). Chewing ice is a symptom, not a cause or interference as your doctor stated. There is not a lot of research on pica, but one reports about Black women in the south with pica who ate laundry starch and clay. Your body is telling you need iron. Give it some. The paper and ice eating will stop when your iron levels near normal, which is 13 to 15 for menstruating females.