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10 Body Clues To Watch As Disease Predictors

Thursday March 18, 2010

KDKA - What size do you wear? How's your sense of smell? What's your blood type?

Scientists are discovering more and more that physical quirks may be early signs of disease.

But if you explore all of this early, you can change the future of your health.

Take a look at your hands. Are your index fingers shorter than your ring fingers? If so, experts say women may be twice as prone to osteoarthritis.

"The short index finger is actually a male characteristic - so women who have it tend to be low in estrogen and that may lead to the development of osteoarthritis," said Courtenay Smith, executive editor of Prevention magazine.

Smith researched dozens of studies that show certain body parts can predict certain conditions from Alzheimer's disease to diabetes.

"These factors don't necessarily prove cause and effect, but they can point you in the right direction," Smith said.

Like your sense of smell - or lack there of.

"Older adults who lost the ability to detect scents, they are five times more likely to develop Parkinson's disease," Smith said.

Because the area of the brain that controls our sense of smell is the first to be impacted by this disease.

"The Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, they help fortify the brain against toxic compounds," Smith said.

Among other disease predictors:

- British researchers found that stocky women have higher levels of enzymes that could potentially indicate liver disease.

- Adults who have larger abdomens are nearly four times as likely to develop dementia later in life, according to a study published in the Journal of Neurology.

- And Canadian research shows a D cup or bigger may spell greater potential for diabetes.

"Our breast tissue may be hormonally sensitive and it's creating insulin resistance and that's what leads to diabetes," Smith said.

Multiple studies show that wrinkles on one or both earlobes may predict future cardiovascular problems.

"Because of a lack of a certain kind of fiber that's actually found in the earlobe and found in the blood vessels," Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum said.

But with any of these predictors, check with your doctor before jumping to conclusions.

"Don't panic, eat healthy, exercise, take care of yourself," Dr. Steinbaum said.

Another study found women who are taller than 5-foot-2 were missing a gene mutation that helps them reach their 100th birthday. But for all of us the key to long life is quit smoking, cut back on alcohol and eat plenty of veggies.