Odd Predictors of Health: Finger Length, Birth Order, Grip Strength, Religion

Believe it or not, things such as the length of your fingers can actually predict the chances of a debilitating illness in the future or your chances of premature mortality.

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We’re generally told that if we eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid dangerous substances and situations, we can expect to live a long and healthy life. In reality, recent research seems to indicate that other things have a say in your health. These are factors that nobody initially thought had anything to do with your chances of contracting disease. Discussed below are some surprising factors that may affect your chances of morbidity or mortality.

Finger Length

In a study of over 5,000 men, researchers found that those with an index finger that is longer than their ring finger had a 33 percent reduced risk of developing prostate cancer. The study did not factor in family history or other risk categories; the only factor studied was finger length. Men under 40 with long index fingers were the least likely to have prostate cancer.

Birth Order

This one is particularly surprising as it has nothing to do with you (technically). For various reasons, it seems that the first born child is at higher risk for diseases such as leukemia and testicular cancer. The reason for the leukemia isn’t as well documented, but researchers theorize that higher levels of estrogen may factor into the testicular cancer. Another reason is that siblings aren’t around to expose the child to various viruses and bacteria, thus helping them develop immunities early.

Grip Strength

In various studies conducted over several decades, the strength of an individual’s grip served as an excellent predictor of physical disability later in life. Individuals with good or superb grip strength were less than half as likely to suffer disability as they aged. Whether the grip strength itself was the cause or some underlying variable was responsible is not yet known.

Hair Loss

According to a study by Harvard Medical School, hair loss is correlated with heart disease. Specifically, hair loss at the crown seems to mean that you are at increased risk for cardiovascular problems. Pattern baldness in general increased an individual’s risk, but those that were completely bald near the crown had an almost 40% increased chance of developing heart problems.

How Religious You Are

It seems that individuals who consider themselves very religious live as much as ten years longer than those who do not. There are various reasons for this, and it doesn’t seem to be divine intervention. Rather, people who are extremely religious often avoid things such as drugs and alcohol, as well as various situations that could potentially put them in harm’s way.

Another reason is that religion gives people faith in a higher power and comforts them when things do not go their way. This reduces their overall stress levels and triggers a sort of placebo effect when these people are struck with illness. Highly religious vegetarians had the longest life expectancy. By some estimates, they can expect to live approximately 90 years.

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