6 Surprising Diseases Your Hands Might Predict

From finger length to grip strength, our hands can indicate risk factors for a number of surprising conditions.

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Finger length reveals: Arthritis risk


Women with ring fingers that are longer than their index fingers, typically a male trait, are twice as likely to have osteoarthritis in the knees, according to an Arthritis & Rheumatism study. Low estrogen levels may be a factor. Sound like you? Steal these doctor-approved tips for preventing arthritis. The same finger feature has been linked to higher athletic ability and verbal aggression in both genders. (Learn which of the 9 types of anger you tend to express.) In men, a significantly longer ring finger (indicating an in-utero testosterone surge during the second trimester) is associated with having more children and better relationships with women, but a higher risk of prostate cancer. Don't miss these symptoms of prostate cancer no man should ignore.

Shaky hands reveal: Parkinson's disease


Trembling hands could be the result of something as simple as too much caffeine (here are the signs you need to cut back on coffee) or a side effect of certain medications like asthma drugs and antidepressants. But it's a good idea to see your doctor if the issue recurs. A tremor in just one hand can be a first symptom of Parkinson's disease, or it can indicate essential tremor, a disorder that causes uncontrollable shaking and is treatable with therapy or medication. Find out what condition puts you at a higher risk for Parkinson's.

Nail color reveals: Kidney disease


When Indian researchers studied 100 patients with chronic kidney disease, they found that 36 percent had half-and-half nails, when the bottom of a nail is white and the top is brown. (Check out these other conditions your nails can predict.) The nail condition may be caused by an increased concentration of certain hormones and chronic anemia, both traits of chronic kidney disease. (Here are more hidden signs of kidney disease.) See your doctor right away if you notice half-and-half nails or a dark, vertical stripe beneath the nail bed. This can be hidden melanoma, a skin cancer. Don't miss these other signs of skin cancer that aren't on your skin.

Grip strength reveals: Heart health


A weak grip predicts a higher risk of heart attack or stroke and lower chances of survival, according to a new Lancet study of nearly 140,000 adults in 17 countries. (Find out how doctors keep their own hearts healthy.) Grip strength was a better predictor of death than was blood pressure. Researchers say grip strength is a marker of overall muscle strength and fitness, and they recommend whole-body strength training and aerobic exercise to reduce heart disease risk. For motivation, read these 14 powerful benefits of exercise that don't have to do with weight loss.

Sweaty palms reveal: Hyperhidrosis

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Overly clammy hands may be a symptom of menopause (along with these other menopause body changes no one talks about) or thyroid conditions, as well as hyperhidrosis, in which overactive sweat glands cause far more perspiration than necessary. Most people with the condition sweat from only one or two parts of the body, such as the armpits, palms, or feet. A doctor may prescribe a strong antiperspirant to decrease sweat production. Learn what else your sweat says about your health.

Fingerprints reveal: High blood pressure

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When British researchers studied 139 fingerprints, they found that people with a whorl (spiral) pattern on one or more fingers were more likely to have high blood pressure than people with arches or loops. The more fingers with whorls a participant had, the higher his or her blood pressure was. Fingertip whorls are markers of fetal development problems during certain stages of pregnancy, which may affect blood pressure later in life. Whether you have a whorl or not, don't miss these 31 things you can do now to avoid high blood pressure.

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