What Your Ears, Fingers, Arms, and Blood Type Can Tell You About Your Health

Monday Jun 23, 2014 | BY |
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Physical Characteristics

If you have creases that run diagonally across your ear, you may be at a higher risk of heart disease.

Is your index finger shorter than your ring finger? Do you have creases in your ears? Do you have an “O” blood type?

Believe it or not, these physical characteristics could provide clues to your overall health and your potential risk of disease.

1. Ear Creases

If you see a diagonal fold or deep wrinkle in the middle of your earlobe (which is typically smooth), you may have a higher risk of heart disease. The connection was first discovered in the 1970s. Since then, a number of studies have confirmed a potential link.

In 2006, for example, researchers looked at 520 forensic autopsies, took pictures of the earlobes, and then looked at the cause of death for each individual. They also looked at other factors, like body mass index and abdominal fat. They found that both men and women with ear creases were more likely to have died of coronary artery disease than those without the creases. The characteristic was also strongly correlated with sudden cardiac death in men.

In an earlier 1992 study, researchers reported similar results. They looked at 247 patients admitted to a general hospital and found a significant association between ear creases and coronary heart disease.

Not all studies have found a correlation—a late 1980s study found no link between ear creases and heart disease, for example. Still, there is enough evidence to warrant a little extra caution if you have this characteristic.

2. A, B, and AB Blood Types

If you have a blood type A, B, or AB, you may be at a higher risk for pancreatic cancer than those with a blood type O. This, according to a 2009 study by researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Using data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, researchers found that people with blood type O were much less likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those with A, AB, or B blood types.

More specifically:

  • Those with type A blood were 32 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.
  • Those with type AB blood were 51 percent more likely.
  • Those with type B blood were 72 percent more likely.

Though the scientists emphasized that the overall risk of pancreatic cancer is still low, the findings were interesting. An earlier 1991 study reported similar results. Researchers looked at the Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program—a hospital-based study that collected hospital admissions from six different countries—and found a positive association between those with blood type A and pancreatic cancer.

A 2009 study looked at how bacteria may affect this connection. Looking at 373 patients and 693 controls, they found an increased risk of pancreatic cancer in non-O blood types. They also found a connection between the H. pylori bacteria (the same one that causes many stomach ulcers) and pancreatic cancer risk in non-O blood types.

3. Finger Length

Look at your fingers. Is your index finger (first finger) shorter than your ring finger? If so, you may be twice as likely to suffer osteoarthritis in your knees. In a 2014 study, researchers looked at the hands of over 14,000 middle-aged and older participants in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study.

They then looked at those who went through a total knee or total hip replacement between 2001 and 2011. Over an average 10.5-year follow-up, 580 participants had knee replacements and 499 had hip replacements. Those with a lower ratio between the index finger and the ring finger had a significantly higher incidence of knee replacements (though not of hip replacements). This was true with both the right and left hands, though the risk was stronger with the right hand.

An earlier 2008 study had shown similar results. Researchers found that women with index fingers shorter than their ring fingers were more likely to have osteoarthritis of the knee. Scientists believe that the ratio between the index and ring fingers has hormonal connections, and may indicate lower estrogen levels, which may play a role in the development of osteoarthritis.

4. Leg Length

Time to go from the fingers to the legs. Are they on the shorter or the longer side? According to a 2008 study by British researchers, short legs—in women, at least—are linked with an increased risk of liver disease. The findings are based on a review of data from nearly 4,300 women between the ages of 60 and 79. Researchers measured standing and seated height to include leg and trunk length. The also took blood samples to measure levels of four liver enzymes that indicate potential disease.

Results showed that the longer the leg length, the lower the levels of these enzymes and therefore, the lower risk of liver disease. The shorter the leg length the higher the levels of these enzymes. Scientists theorized that greater height may boost the size of the liver, which can decrease enzyme levels and create a liver that is better able to withstand challenges.

Leg length may also affect your risk of heart disease. A 2001 study found that men with shorter legs were more likely to have higher triglyceride levels and total to HDL cholesterol levels than those with longer legs. Other research has also found links between shorter leg length and risk of type 2 diabetes.

5. Height

How might your height affect your life expectancy? According to a 2003 study, the taller you are, the better. Researchers found an inverse association between height and all-cause mortality. Other studies have shown different results. In 2012, for instance, researchers reviewed 130 studies and found that the average height for men was 5 feet 8 inches, and 5 feet 3 inches for women. Taller people were more likely to die of many types of cancer, while shorter people were more at risk from heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

A large 2000 study found an association between height and total mortality for both men and women. Overall, “we found that short adult stature was associated with most of the assessed risk factors as well as with socioeconomic status and that it predicted higher mortality.” A 1994 study using data from the Framingham Heart Study also found that shorter stature was associated with an increased risk for heart attack in women.

Scientists theorize that taller people may have received more nourishment when in the womb and during childhood. Taller people were also more likely to be leaner, exercise more, and smoke less, according to studies. This may be true only of certain races, however—a 2014 study of American men of Japanese ancestry, for example, found the opposite effect. Shorter men were likely to live longer.

6. Arm Length

Can you reach things on your top cupboard? If you can, you may be less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. That’s what researchers reported in a 2008 study. Researchers from the Cardiovascular Health Cognition Study followed nearly 3,000 people for an average of five years. They took knee height and arm span measurements.

They found that women with the shortest arm spans were 1.5 times more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than women with longer arm spans. And legs? Again, length helped—for every inch longer, the risk was reduced by 16 percent.

In men, only arm span was associated with a lower risk of dementia—a six-percent decreased risk for every increased inch.

7. Bra Size

If you regularly purchase a D cup or larger bra, you may be at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. In a 10-year 2008 study, researchers looked at data from the Nurses’ Health Study II. They examined a woman’s cup size at the age of 20 and the rates of diabetes developing over a period of 20 years. Results showed that the chances of developing diabetes increased in women with larger cup sizes. Compared to women with an A cup or smaller at 20 years old, those with a D cup or larger at that age had about a three times higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. (Women with a B or C cup at that age also had a higher risk than those with an A cup.)

Researchers weren’t sure how breast size could be tied to diabetes risk, though they guessed that it may have something to do with how breasts develop during puberty—i.e., that the onset of puberty occurs earlier in obese girls. More research needs to be done, however, to confirm the findings.

Do you fit into one of these groups? Please share your thoughts on your possible health risks.

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Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho. www.colleenmstory.com

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