Nurses know things about health and disease that they wish they didn’t.

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Sometimes being a nurse isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Mostly by that I mean that you find out things you wish you didn’t have to know. And once you learn it, the idea sticks in our brain like flypaper.

So, here are five things I wish I didn’t know. But I do know them anyway.

  1. Women whose index fingers are shorter than their ring fingers may be twice as prone to osteoarthritis in the knees. Those with this predominately male characteristic tend to have lower levels of estrogen, which may also play a role in the development of osteoarthritis. You can attack this issue by strengthening the muscles surrounding your knees. While sitting, straighten each leg parallel to the floor 10 times; hold each rep for 5 to 10 seconds.
  2. I really hate this one. Linear wrinkles in one or both lobes may predict future cardiovascular events (heart attack, bypass surgery, or cardiac death.) A crease on one lobe raises the risk by 33 percent; a crease on both lobes increases it by 77 percent. Why? Who knows for sure? Maybe a loss of elastic fibers causes both the crease and the hardening of arteries.
  3. If your legs are on the stocky side, take better care of your liver. Women with legs between 20 and 29 inches tend to have higher levels of four enzymes that indicate liver disease. Avoid exposure to toxins your liver has to process, which will keep it healthier, longer. Wear a mask and gloves while cleaning or working with any type of harsh chemical.
  4. Older adults who couldn’t identify the scent of bananas, lemons, cinnamon, or other items were five times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease within 4 years. The area of the brain responsible for olfactory function may be one of the first affected by Parkinson’s disease—somewhere between 2 and 7 years prior to diagnosis. Take fish oil supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids can boost your brain’s resistance to MPTP, a toxic compound responsible for Parkinson’s.
  5. Have a hard time touching your toes? Women with the shortest arm spans are 1 1/2 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those with longer reaches. (Find yours by spreading your arms parallel to the floor and having someone measure fingertips to fingertips; the shortest spans were less than 60 inches. There’s an answer. Put your appendages to good use with a hobby such as painting or pottery. Adults who spend the most time engaged in engaging leisure activities are more than 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who spent less time challenging their brains.

Copyright © Christine Hammerlund – 2010.Christine Hammerlund is a registered nurse and the owner of Assured Healthcare, a healthcare staffing service headquartered in Gurnee, Illinois.