Did you realize that a specific part of the body can serve as an indicator of a person's overall health, how quickly they age, and their susceptibility to diseases such as heart disease and cancer?
The functions of this hand are astounding. In addition to enabling us to perform tasks such as throwing, grasping, climbing and lifting objects, it can also serve as a barometer of health.
By assessing hand grip strength - the maximum force a person can exert through grip strength - scientists can not only measure a person's strength, but also estimate how quickly they age and diagnose certain health problems, including heart disease and cancer.
The importance of grip strength in assessing a person's health cannot be overstated. A lower than average grip strength has been linked to a higher risk of heart failure, cardiac death, total mortality and hospitalization for heart failure. Grip strength can also be an indicator of cancer survival, with studies showing that patients with non-small cell lung cancer who had a stronger grip were more likely to survive.
Moreover, men with colorectal, prostate or lung cancer, and women with breast and lung cancer, tend to have a 5 kg reduction in grip strength in the 60-69 age group, which is associated with increased odds of dying from colorectal cancer in men and breast cancer in women.
Obesity and type 2 diabetes are also associated with weaker grip strength due to the accumulation of fat in and around muscles, reducing their efficiency. However, the decline in grip strength may also be due to age-related neurological changes or loss of arm muscles, which varies among individuals.
It is worth noting that grip strength loss in older adults is associated with a decline in cognitive function. Therefore, regular monitoring of grip strength can provide valuable insights into a person's overall health and well-being, and can serve as a useful tool for healthcare professionals to use in their practice. By paying attention to grip strength, individuals can take proactive steps to address any potential health issues that may arise.
Cancer, in particular, can negatively affect our digestive system, hindering food intake and reducing appetite. The nutrients we consume, particularly protein, are essential for maintaining muscle mass and strength. Due to the lack of proper nutrition, the body has to rely on internal reserves to produce energy. Initially, the body metabolizes unused tissue, and muscle is the preferred source. Weight loss depletes the body's natural reserves and may affect its ability to resist long-term chronic disease.
In summary, the firmness of a handshake may be a better indicator of a person's health than one might expect, as it reflects overall muscle strength and function.