What Fingers and Toes Can Tell You About Your Health

Do you take your fingers and toes for granted? Very few of us see them as anything other than parts of the body we use to walk or grip or touch with. However, actually they may point out diseases and how you will do in life!

Podiatrist Dr. Michael Nirenberg says: “Toes talk. They don’t rattle on like some annoying relative. They do often mirror overall health — at times being the first place to show signs of serious medical problems.”

“Nowadays, with MRIs, CT scans, and hundreds of blood tests to choose from, few doctors look at toes,” he adds. “But in ancient times, examining the toes was as important as having patients stick out their tongue.”

Fingers talk as well, even though some of the things they say may be a little more difficult to believe — such as whether or not you are good boss material! Here are 10 of the possible messages our toes and fingers might be sending us.

10. Money Skills

If having a longer ring finger than your index finger means you are more likely to develop prostate cancer, well, the reverse just might be good news regarding your ability to make money. A University of Cambridge study of 49 male traders found that those with longer ring fingers earned 10 times more than those with shorter digits. One of the reasons is that longer ring fingers have been shown to mean “greater fetal exposure to the male hormone androgen, which has been associated with increased aggression.” Who knew?

9. Blood Deficiency

“Believe it or not, the health of your fingers and toes could be a preemptive clue as to the health of your heart. Fingernails and toenails that split, flake or peel could be a sign that you are blood deficient — even if labs show you aren’t anemic,” says Dr. Karen Burris of the American Acupuncture Center.

“Being blood deficient can lead to malnutrition of your external body leaving your hair, skin and nails dry,” she adds. “This malnourishment is also occurring within your body creating a weaker heart, lower blood pressure and fatigue.”


8. Boss Potential

This is definitely not scientific, but for centuries myth had it that if your second toe was longer than your big toe, you would be the head of your family and have leadership abilities. The formation actually has a name, “Morton’s toe”, but absolutely no proof of the myth has been found. Of course, if you do have a second toe that is longer than your big toe, you might want to use it to get a promotion!

Image: CT Nehls


7. Aches In Your Future

In 2008, a study carried out at the University of Nottingham showed that people with index fingers shorter than their ring fingers are more likely to get osteoarthritis (or degenerative arthritis). Researchers studied 2,000 people, and the ones with the shorter fingers had double the likelihood of suffering from the condition. Once again, it’s likely to do with hormones, in this case estrogen levels.

6. Empathy

Another study carried out this year (2011) suggests that the length of your ring finger tells you how much empathy you have, or how much ability to read others’ emotions. This time, the finding is tied to fetal testosterone exposure, with women more likely to have longer ring fingers than men. Does this mean women are better with money skills as well (see entry 10)? Some physicians have dismissed this study, however.


Image: Fredrik


5. You’re Not Eating Right

We all know that too little calcium can lead to weak nails, but did you know that spoon-like or flat toenails may mean a lack of some B vitamins? While low vitamin C could cause fraying toenails, small white patches on your toenails indicate a need for zinc, according to podiatrist Dr. Michael S. Nirenberg.

4. Breathing Troubles

Clubbed or rounded fingernails are often found in people who suffer from chronic respiratory or cardiac conditions that decrease the amount of oxygen in the blood. The nails then spread out and become rounder.


Image: NASA


3. Prostate Cancer

British scientists have carried out a number of studies on what the length of index fingers mean. In a study by the University of Warwick involving 1,500 cancer patients and 3,000 healthy people, the results suggested that men with longer index fingers than ring fingers are one third less likely to develop prostate cancer. The researchers’ theory is that men with longer index fingers are also more likely to have lower testosterone.

Image: Marvin 101

2. Stroke

The white moons at the base of your finger nails are good to have as they are the birthplace of new nail cells. If they are purple, it could be a clue that you are more likely to have a stroke, says Karen Burris of the American Acupuncture Center. Why? Because it indicates a slower blood circulation than normal. The good news is that anyone worried about having a stroke can remove most of the risk factors through diet and exercise.


Image: Kommissar


1. Terry’s Nails

These are a dark arc near the fingertips, and the nails themselves are opaque (see Mayo Clinic image here). Eighty percent of people with severe liver disease have Terry’s Nails, but it can also occur together with hyperthyroidism, diabetes or malnutrition.

Clearly, some of the above need further study to be considered in any way definitive – and we would hope no one reading this looks at any of these examples as proof of some condition they have. In such medical and research matters, there are many variables, with some symptoms meaning nothing in one person and yet a problem in another.

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