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What Your Toenails Say About Your Health

What Your Toenails Say About Your Health

If you’re trying to quit smoking and you want to know your risk of developing a health diagnosis like heart disease, you might want to hang on to your toenail clippings.

Until recently, researchers used urine and saliva as a way to measure cigarette smoke and nicotine exposure in people, which are risk factors of heart disease. However, those measurements were only good for a few days worth of information, and were therefore not highly accurate. Toenails, on the other hand—err, foot—grow very slowly and therefore offer a better assessment of nicotine absorption.

A study looked at more than 60, 000 smoker women’s toenail clippings from 1982 and compared it to their risk of being diagnosed with heart disease between 1984 and 1998. The women with the highest levels of nicotine found in their toenails were thinner, less active, heavier drinkers, more likely to have high blood pressure or diabetes, and a family history of heart attack, compared to those with low amounts of nicotine content in their toenails. Those who were diagnosed with heart disease later on had twice as much nicotine in their toenails than women without heart disease. Researchers also found that the women with the most nicotine content had almost four times the risk of heart disease than those with the least amount of nicotine in their toenails. The study just goes to show, your toenails don’t lie.

What would your toenail clippings reveal? [Reuters]

Posted: 6/6/08