by Mindy Walker, REDBOOK
Feel shy in that flimsy paper gown? Don't worry. Your doctor may be paying more attention to your eyebrows than your rear end. It's true! Random body parts can provide important health clues:
1. CREASED EARLOBES "Decades of research have established that a crease across one of your earlobes is associated with an increased risk of heart disease," says JoAnne Foody, M.D., a cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. So if you've got 'em, your doctor may want to check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
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2. THIN EYEBROWS Sparse brows (not due to overplucking) are a well-documented sign of thyroid problems. "Thyroid hormone keeps hair healthy all over; without it, hair gets thin and brittle," says Sandra Fryhofer, M.D., a clinical associate professor of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta. A simple blood test can detect your levels.
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3. BREAST SIZE The bigger your chest, the higher your risk of type 2 diabetes, note findings from part of the Nurses' Health Study, which followed 90,000 women for 20 years. "Women who are a D cup or larger at age 20 are almost five times more likely to develop the disease than A cups," Foody says. "These risks hold true even after adjusting for obesity, diet, smoking, and family history." A type of fat in the breast may produce hormones that encourage diabetes, so if you have a large chest, ask your doctor for a fasting blood-glucose test to assess your risk.
Related: 43 Easy Tips to Look Younger
4. SHORT POINTER FINGERS If your pointer finger is shorter than your ring finger, you may be twice as likely to develop knee osteoarthritis, a new study by the Arthritis Research Institute of America in Clearwater, FL, found. The bigger the difference, the greater the risk, says study author Paul Leaverton, Ph.D. "It's only a concern if the ring finger is obviously longer," he says - so if you can't tell just by looking at your hand, you're likely in the clear. The best way to prevent creaky knees? Maintain a healthy weight: Extra pounds strain joints.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.