4 Random Things That Predict Huge Health Problems Later


It took us millennia to figure out that sickness is caused by tiny little assholes called germs, and we still don’t know how to thwart the common cold, or what you should eat to prevent your heart from exploding on your 40th birthday (not grenades; we know that much). But we do know some things, and they may not be what you think …

4

The Month You Were Born Dictates How You’ll Die

Human health is the lottery from hell — you wait for decades just to see whether you’re going to be struck down with cancer, heart disease, an auto-immune disorder, brain tumors, oooorrrr you can open the Mystery Box! Will it be MRSA, or fatal penile inversion? Roll the dice!

On a long-enough time scale, everyone loses.

So what if you could look into a crystal ball and see what your particular “prize” is going to be? We’re not there yet, but scientists at Columbia University are on their way, and it all revolves around which month of the year you were born.

In the first large-scale study of its kind, Columbia scientists investigated the link between birth month and 55 different diseases, drawing on 1.7 million medical histories from New York patients treated between 1985 and 2013. The study confirmed previous suppositions that certain ailments are associated with certain months. But it’s not all bad, because your birth date can also offer protection from other types of disease, illustrated in a chart seemingly catered to D&D fans.

For example, spring babies are more likely to inherit heart diseases and die younger, but less liable to suffer mental problems. Fall babies are apparently the least fortunate. They’re most likely to develop not only neurological conditions like ADHD, but also respiratory illnesses and viral infections, possibly due to increased rates of infections during winter pregnancies, according to researchers. However, these birth months benefit from lower incidences of cardiac disease, so as a fall baby, there’s no reason you can’t live a long, demented life.

Babies born during the summer months appear to be healthiest, as they avoid the block of heart diseases associated with early springtime births, as well as the neurological quagmire of the fall months. Scientists believe it’s partially due to extra vitamin D from increased sun exposure, but the ebb and flow of more than 150 different bodily chemicals can contribute to disease.

There’s a minor tradeoff, as women born during the summer months are slightly less fertile, but that’s only fair. Otherwise, with numbers on their side, those summer super-babies would surely take over the world.

3

Baldness Means An Increase In Heart Disease

Three separate studies have tracked the health of participants over a period of 11 years, and found that if you compare a mostly bald person to his non-bald counterpart, the bald guy has a whopping 32 percent greater risk of developing heart disease. Oh, and if the bald guy is younger than 60, his risk increases to 44 percent greater chance. So if you’re bald, here’s an extra scoop of “fuck you.” If you went bald young, you get two scoops.

PacoRomero/iStock
Just not of sex. You get none of that.

This is backed up, by the way: Three other studies found that bald men are 70 percent more likely to have heart disease, and that younger men get a risk increase all the way up to 84 percent. The amount of hair you have is directly proportionate to how much life likes you.

Also, your type of baldness is important. The specific part of your head that’s losing the most hair correlates with the chance that your heart, like your hair, will eventually give up on you. If you have “vertex balding” (balding on the top of the head), research shows you have a 52 percent increased risk of heart disease. Those with frontal balding (the dreaded “receding hairline”) get off lucky, with a mere 22 percent increase.

energyy/iStock
If you use spray-on hair, you have a 72 percent likelihood of dying from a wedgie.

As for “Why, dear God, why is this happening to me, wasn’t being bald enough?!” — researchers have proposed that hormone levels may be the culprit. Bald men typically have higher levels of testosterone in the blood, and researchers point out that there’s an enzyme that works to convert testosterone into a different hormone — and that this hormone is responsible for both killing hair follicles, and plaque build-up in the arteries.

With all that said, researchers pointed out that well-known factors such as smoking and obesity are much more reliable predictors of heart problems than whatever your hairline is doing, so if you’re taking care of your general fitness, then these studies shouldn’t serve as much more than a light kick to the balls from life. Moderately light. Like life is wearing a shoe, but it’s a Puma, with a gel insole.

2

The Length Of Your Fingers Correlates With Mental Illness

Your fingers come in a variety pack of four significantly differing sizes. The one you use to communicate with bad drivers is usually the longest, followed by the ring finger, then the index or “pointer,” then the pinkie. If yours are different, don’t worry — different finger size ratios are not uncommon, and it all depends on the varying hormone levels you received in the womb. But also do worry, since it might determine your susceptibility to a whole catalogue of mental illnesses.

Grigorenko/iStock
And if your second toe is bigger than your big toe, you might as well commit yourself right now.

Have a shorter ring than index finger? You probably received less prenatal testosterone exposure, and are consequently at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. And if you’re thinking that eating disorders are usually a girl thing, it doesn’t necessarily matter in this case. One study measured men’s fingers and had them fill out questionnaires about eating behaviors and attitudes, and found that men with less prenatal testosterone (and shorter ring fingers) had less drive for muscularity, greater drive for leanness, and scored higher on disordered eating symptoms.

Another study looked at instances of disordered eating in pairs of twins, some of them boy-girl pairs, and some girl-girl pairs. The researchers found that the girls in the boy-girl pairs, who were exposed to more testosterone (due to being womb-mates with a dude for nine months), showed less propensity toward eating disorders, even after controlling for other factors.

Conversely, if your ring finger is unusually long, which means you scored the testosterone jackpot, then your grand prize is an increased risk of autism. Scientists still aren’t really sure what causes autism or what it even is, but one theory is the “extreme male-brain hypothesis”, which basically says that having extremely “masculine” traits (like preferring to think about things and systems rather than people) is a recipe for a mental disorder. The theory is supported by the fact that people with autism have been found to have had greater prenatal testosterone exposure, which again, is indicated by having a longer fourth than second finger.

Other disorders related to these higher levels of prenatal testosterone (and to a “masculinized brain”) include ADHD and Tourette’s syndrome. Oh, and if that’s not all depressing enough, your finger ratio might even relate to actual depression.

To test one bizarre theory, researchers took a camera, some rulers, and some corpse fingers. Researchers “enrolled 71 corpses” in the study, who had been dead anywhere from seven hours to 14 days. Some deaths were by suicide, others by natural causes. The corpses’ hands were photographed, finger lengths measured, and longer fourth fingers indeed were correlated with suicide. The researchers didn’t find a correlation between suicide method and finger length; that would be crazy …

But they were ready with an explanation for this, speculating that the failure “might be due to us investigating an insufficient number of suicide corpses.”

That’s the most metal thing Science has ever said.

1

Thinner Thighs Mean A Higher Risk Of Diabetes, Heart Disease, And Death

We all know “thin good, fat bad.” The fatter you are, the more likely you are to get diabetes, heart disease, or the dreaded double chin syndrome. But, as with all things, the situation gets more complicated — how do your thighs look? You got the chopstick legs? Science says you may be in just as much danger as thunder-thighs over there.

A study with over 300,000 male and female Korean participants found that participants with a smaller than average thigh circumference had an increased risk of diabetes. Even after controlling for important factors like age and genetic risk, and for lifestyle factors like physical activity and smoking.

So society’s prevailing slimmer-is-better philosophy may be skewed, especially because the study found that the association between thin thighs and diabetes was greater for people with a BMI of less than 25 — as in, for people technically at a healthy weight. Other studies have confirmed the relationship: one with over 3,000 men and women found that a thigh circumference of less than 24 inches increases your risk of heart disease and death, even after controlling for lifestyle factors. It’s also important to point out that the thigh size associated with increased health risks isn’t exactly skeletal: It’s still several inches larger than the thigh of the average model.

Researchers think it has something to do with not having enough muscle mass, because having more muscle improves insulin resistance. Another study of over a thousand older men and women found that having larger hips and thighs decreases risk of diabetes, and the researchers who conducted this study also think that lack of muscle mass might be driving the relationship.

Additionally, one study found that having more fat in the thighs is associated with better insulin resistance, and the researchers see this as evidence that not only increased muscle but also increased fat in the legs might be the reason that people with bigger thighs have a reduced risk of diabetes.

Are you a young, thin bald guy with weird fingers, born in the fall?

It was nice knowing you.

For more ways to get to know yourself a little better, check out 8 Innocent Things (That Are Signs Of Huge Health Problems) and 5 Random Factors That Determine Whether You Succeed in Life.

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