Your Palm Says It All

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Rogue, fraud, charlatan. Words we often use to describe the roadside palmist. Can anyone say what the creases, lines and stars etched on our palms mean? Or if they do mean anything at all?
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Some people, it seems, can say much about your life by “reading” your palm.

Welcome to the world of medical palmistry, a branch of science based on documented and proven scientific observations.

A detailed examination of the palm does provide valuable clues to a person’s medical history, lifestyle, diseases and life expectancy. Palms and fingers have characteristic creases, whorls, arches and loops. These are unique in each individual and never identical, even in twins. One of the oldest biometric methods of establishing positive identity is by using fingerprints.

“Palmar creases” form in an unborn baby as it holds its hands tightly clenched during the 12th week. Normally this forms three palmar creases or lines. Any physical, medical or drug-induced injury to the foetus during the first three months is reflected permanently as abnormal palmar creases. This can be picked up on ultrasound examination after the 12th week. If the creases are abnormal, the foetus should be closely monitored for associated abnormalities in the kidney, heart and other organ

Sometimes the upper two lines fuse to form a single palmar crease or simian line that stretches across the open palm. A single palmar crease can be present in one out of 30 apparently normal people. It is more common in males and is usually present only on one hand. One or both parents of these children may have the abnormal crease on one hand. This is a minor aberration and warrants monitoring as these children may reveal mild abnormalities in other organs in later life. It is also associated with certain chromosomal anomalies, the most common of which is Down’s Syndrome (Trisomy 21).

Not all abnormal palmar creases are hereditary or genetic. Alcoholic women who continue to drink during pregnancy can produce children with “foetal alcohol syndrome” and a single palmar crease.

People with mental illnesses have more open loops and fewer whorls on their finger tips. Those prone to chronic diseases like leprosy and tuberculosis also tend to have only two lines on the palm, with the abnormal line just above the thumb.

Normally, a person has 10 fingers and toes. In one in 1,000 births, there may be extra digits, separate, complete, incomplete or fused. These defects can be associated with other internal congenital malformations, and so a detailed examination must be done for any affected newborn.

Marfans syndrome is a genetic disorder in which the person has “arachnodactyly” or abnormally long fingers like spider legs. This can be diagnosed before birth through ultrasound.

Congenital hypothyroidism, certain renal diseases and some forms of dwarfism are linked with a “tripartiate” hand — where the index, middle and ring fingers are the same length.

Cigarette smokers, people suffering from chronic respiratory ailments, and those with congenital heart disease may have blue nails. Some lung diseases like bronchiectasis, and chronic intestinal diseases may bend the nail like a convex parrot beak, a condition called “clubbing”. Jaundice causes the skin of the palms to turn yellow. Carotenemia produces a similar appearance. It is a harmless condition and is caused by an excess consumption of yellow carotene containing fruits and vegetables.

Hormone levels in the uterus also influences finger length. A person (irrespective of sex) with the index finger shorter than the ring finger will have had more testosterone (male hormone) while in the womb, and a person with an index finger longer than the ring finger will have had more eostrogen (female hormone). Professional women, especially women scientists, tend to have higher levels of testosterone vis-a-vis their oestrogen level, making their brains closer to those of men in general. The converse is true with men working in the fine arts and social sciences.

The position in which we hold our palms is a reflection of the body mass index or BMI (weight in kilogram divided by height in metre squared). A BMI more than 30 is diagnostic of obesity. Such people tend to hold their hands with the thumbs facing backwards as they stand. Overweight people with a BMI between 25 and 30 hold their arms with the thumb facing sideways. People of normal weight with a BMI between 20 and 25 stand with their palms facing forwards.

So, remember, your palms will reveal a lot about your health, but only if you go to a medical palmist.

The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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