Your toes tell it all, ladies.
Toenail clippings can provide evidence of tobacco exposure and help explain the risk of heart disease, at least in women, according to a unique study from the University of California-San Diego and Harvard University.
The medical researchers examined levels of nicotine in toenails of 905 women who were diagnosed with coronary heart disease from 1984 through 1998.
The women were among the 62,641 participants in the Nurse’s Health Study. Those with heart disease were randomly matched to two other participants by age and by the date that their toenails were collected.
The twenty percent of women who had the highest nicotine levels in their toenails turned out to have more than triple the risk of being diagnosed with heart disease as those whose levels put them in the lowest twenty percent. The risk remained significantly higher after the researchers took smoking into account, adjusting for the number of cigarettes smoked as well as exposure to second hand smoke.
“Using toenail nicotine is a novel way to objectively measure exposure to tobacco smoke, and ultimately, to increase our understanding of tobacco-related illness, said Wael Al-Delaimy, of UC-San Diego’s department of family and preventive medicine, lead author of the study published this month in the American Journal of Epidemiology. “This would be especially helpful in situations where smoking history is not available or is biased.”
Source: Josh Goldstein, The Philadelphia Inquirer