Spectator Health

Your finger nails could hold the answer to your health problems

21 July 2014

4:04 PM

21 July 2014

4:04 PM

Eighteen hundred years ago, Romano-Britons with a variety of medical conditions would have visited the healing temple at Lydney Park in Gloucestershire, with some of them drinking the iron-rich waters found there. One person left behind a small offering – perhaps in appreciation of a successful cure – in the form of a model forearm. Interestingly the fingernails on the hand are spoon-shaped – a feature that is associated with severe iron deficiency anaemia.

Examining an individual’s finger nails can still be very helpful in alerting doctors to a range of heart and lung problems in addition to anaemia, thyroid disease and some skin conditions. In addition we occasionally send off nail clippings to try and diagnose fungal infections.

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Osteoporosis is now a fairly common condition that affects around three million people in the UK and some individuals being treated for osteoporosis have reported that the treatment used to reduce the risk of fragility fractures in their bones has also strengthened their nails. Moreover it has been suggested that the quality of an individual’s nails might correlate with the state of their bones due to similarities in the proteins found in both tissues.

Currently osteoporosis is diagnosed using Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA scanning). But in a recent study reported by a company called Crescent Diagnostics, 619 patients undergoing DXA scanning also had finger nail clippings examined using a Raman spectrometer. Raman spectroscopy analyses molecular vibrations in a sample excited by a laser beam and the spectrum produced provides a ‘fingerprint’ by which the molecules within a sample can be identified.

According to the NICE the accuracy of DXA scanning in predicting major fragility fractures due to osteoporosis is around 67%  – a figure very similar to that found among patients whose nails were examined using Raman spectroscopy and classified as being at ‘increased risk’ for osteoporosis. Moreover, combining nail assessment with DXA and a clinical risk review can improve the accuracy to 75%.

Nail analysis using Raman spectroscopy represents a very interesting new tool to identify individuals at risk of osteoporotic fragility fractures either on its own, or in combination with a DXA scan and a clinical risk assessment.


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Show comments
  • Brigita

    Most of us take them for granted – after all those nagų priežiūra, they aren’t alive, and you can break one without it hurting. I’m talking, of course, about your nails. But you’d be surprised at how many messages they send out about your general health.

  • sara

    successful cure – in the form of a model forearm. Interestingly the
    fingernails on the hand are spoon-shaped – a feature that is associated
    with severe iron deficiency anaemi

    طراحی نمای ساختمان
    درب ضد سرقت چینی

    • pedrampc68

      درب ضد سرقت

  • sara

    Nail analysis using Raman spectroscopy represents a very interesting new
    tool to identify individuals at risk of osteoporotic fragility
    fractures either on its own, or in combination with a DXA scan and a
    clinical risk assessment.
    درب پارکینگ

    نمای ساختمان

  • globalissues

    I found the article very interesting. There are many ways to improve health and prevent diseases. Glad there are some organizations that actually care about this
    issue.

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