September 11, 2009

Earlobe Creases, Thin Thighs and Other Signs You're Doomed

Years ago I came across an article that claimed having creases in your earlobes was an indicator of a higher risk of heart disease.

"Well crap," I thought at the time. Because I kinda-sorta have a faint crease in my right earlobe. I worried about it for a couple of days, then forgot all about it.

Until last week, that is. I was surfing the web and somehow ended up over at The Straight Dope at an article about earlobe creases.

And, yep, while the research is not all in agreement there are yet more studies saying earlobe creases are a bad sign. (For example, in one of the studies the creases had a "positive predictive value" for coronary artery disease of 68 percent, and for people under 40 it was even higher, at 80 percent).

Also, according to the Straight Dope article, there are other weird heart disease "danger" signs out there too, like the color of your earwax, the smell of your breath, the length of your ring finger, and some other gross things I won't even mention.

Oh, and then some study recently came out and said that having thin thighs was a bad thing when it comes to predicting heart disease. Thin thighs, bad? Really? And at first I thought maybe they meant super-skinny folks, but then I went back to the article and measured: damn. Apparently I have thin thighs. Because if you measure "just below the point where your seat meets your legs" and the number is less than 23 1/2 inches? You may be at increased risk of premature death.


So apparently my thighs and earlobes are saying "heart attack," even if my earwax is trying to reassure me, "nah, you're good."

When you read about ominous warning signs for diseases you would rather not end up with, and discover you're at higher risk, do you worry about it?

I used to fret about these sort of articles more, but here's the thing I realized: when it comes to the risk of premature death, I'm already completely screwed.

You know how every article that mentions health risks always gets around to family history? Well, my father died of a heart attack in his early fifties, and both my mother's parents also died in their early fifties (of hemorrhagic stroke and cancer, respectively). My mother, thank goodness, is doing fine, but as I'm getting close to 50 myself, I can't help being aware that my genes are not necessarily my friends.

Is this a bad thing? Well, not necessarily! Because knowing I'm potentially high risk helps me take way better care of my health than I would if I were cheerfully oblivious. While I'm way too lazy to go the gym just to fit in a particular size jeans, I am not too lazy to go to the gym in order to be around to wear jeans at all.

But it still creeps me out a bit when I come across yet another study alerting me to brand new signs that I'm doomed. Are there are any other anxious types out there? If so, here's a reminder of some tricks you can use for blowing off bad news:

1. Wait until another study comes out that completely contradicts the obnoxious one. This may take years or it may take minutes, but eventually, there will be one that says what you want it to.

2. Distinguish yourself from the population under study. Not a lab rat? Excellent, nothing to worry about then! Are you human, but not, say, Swedish, or a nun, or a post-menopausal woman or whatever? No worries then, because they're not talking about you!

3. Eat a big serving of broccoli. It will make you immortal.

4. Develop a selective memory. Note: this gets easier and easier as you get older. Was there some research that said something about heart disease risk? Wait, do we need milk at the store or did we get some yesterday? Pizza sounds good for dinner, doesn't it? Presto! Scary study? What scary study?

5. Reframe your anxiety as a positive: Don't think about yourself as a high-risk worrywart; you are actually a highly motivated health freak! This is a good thing. Unlike most folks these days, you are staying active and eating your vegetables, not sitting on the couch waiting around for a surprise heart attack or stroke to finally motivate you to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

6. Diagnoses are no longer death sentences: Even if you do everything right, you may still end up with heart problems or cancer or diabetes or something frightening. But with modern medicine and a fighting spirit, so many of these conditions are beatable. Even if you should run into trouble, a lifetime of healthy living will give you much more strength than the average schlub to fight off scary diseases.

(And speaking of coping with a scary diagnosis: one of our dear blogfriends, Missicat, could use some kind words and support during a stressful time; you may want to stop by her blog, Missicat's World, if you haven't been by yet.)

7. Lighten up! There are better things to do than worry about things you can't control. Like, for example, you could watch a cat take a shower!

8. Take a Quiz! What does this have to do with earlobes, thin thighs, or heart attacks? Absolutely nothing, but it's Friday and it means it's time for our obligatory Juice quiz question!

This week, the theme at the Juice was "staycations." So with her usual laser-like focus, Crabby blogged about:

a. Staycations for families; staycations for singles; and staycations for couples;

b. Staycations, flatulence, and head lice;

c. Staycations, zombies, and serial killers;

d. Staycations, drag queens, and foot-fetishists;

e. Staycations, spontaneous combustion, and nuclear war.

The answer can be found here or here!

So have a great weekend! And does anyone worry about heightened disease risk or are you all pretty philosophical about it?


  1. Oooops! The first time I posted this I had some misplaced coding, so if anyone got a weirdly truncated version, sorry about that! Just reload the page and it should be fixed now.

  2. I worry about the things I can do something about, and worry somewhat less about the things I can't :-)

  3. I like 1-3 and 6! I never heard of earlobe creases. Granules are supposed to mean gout but I have palpated many an afflicted person's ear and have never felt them. You must give the rest of us the thigh study-- sitting pretty at 26", thank you very much, and happy to be here (used to be 29"). My DH doesn't drive and has the thighs of Hercules if Hercules were a gentle psychologist who does a lot of walking. Fingers crossed it will keep him from a heart attack in his 50's like his dad (although his dad is still going strong at 78).

  4. I loved the idea of larger thighs have some redeemable quality. But that doesn't mean I want anything bad to happen to skinny-thighed peoples. Have a few more chocolate eclairs. For your health.

  5. Forget a cat nap ... I want a cat shower ... LOL!

    What exactly are earlobe creases anyway? ...

  6. I'm sure Kitty was doing it to clean its hard to lick places.

    Menopausal and have Swedish blood. I'd worry, but I already have a heart problem. My view is "&*^% it. I'm here and I'll wink out when I'm good and ready.

  7. Thank goodness I like broccoli...I don't know, some of those studies sound pretty weird and obscure. Those ones I would probably not worry about all that much. Some studies are hard to ignore though.

    Love that cat video! Husband sent me a link to it the other day and it is too cute!

  8. Thin thighs are bad?
    I'm all set :)

    I am a lab rat for real perhaps that cancels it all out :)

  9. I try not to worry about these kinds of things. I just do the best I can do with what I have!

    I have to admit I did rush to the mirror to check out my earlobes. No creases I can see, but as I age maybe some might appear?!

  10. Finally something my large thighs are good for!

  11. OK, you ready?

    A quick quiz: Just one question.

    1) Are you breathing?

    If you answered "yes" then you're gonna die. One of these days. And you will die because your heart stops beating.

    See? We're all in the same boat!

    And darn it! I flunked your quiz. I was sure it was the zombies.

    Have a great weekend. My healthy thunder thighs and I sure will.

    OK, you girls hungry? Yeah? Let's get a snack!

  12. I'm intrigued by the thigh thing. At 5'2", and given the rest of my body shape, my thighs are disproportionally large (sports, genetics, whatever). Yet I still fall into thin thighs. What about people who are tall?

    See? This is why I can never get on board with stuff like this. Ergo, I ignore it, which, I guess we'll see what happens, haha.

  13. I think my chunky thighs cancel out my slightly creased earlobes!

    I love that cat! How extraordinary

  14. I will be freaking out about everything now. Sweet!

  15. When I was dumped, I was sort of glad because he has huge earlobe creases. But as my psychiatrist would say, "he's got to die from sumthin!"

    When I dated a guy with congestive heart failure, the psychiatrist said, "Well, that's good, this way he'll die suddenly. Not a lot of suffering."

    I don't worry about heart disease. And I try not to concern myself dying from anything. I know it's going to happen. I concern myself with how I will handle death when it comes. I hope I'm cool with it.

  16. I'm not sure which has me laughing harder - your post or the comments! :)

    I tend to ignore all of it. I figure I'm gonna die one way or the other. And the scientists will change what they say 6 times before then anyway.

    I'm also cursed with bad family mojo. Mine is cancer. So I make sure I keep up with all my needed appointments and tests. I try to eat healthy and get some good regular exercise. I figure worry will just add to the stress and kill me faster so why bother.

  17. Haha thank you SO much for this post. It made me smile :) Sent a link via Twitter about it too -- everyone should read your stuff!

    -Kerri from Enzymatic Therapy

  18. 3. Eat a big serving of broccoli. It will make you immortal

    ...brb, beheading other broccoliphiles to receive their Quickening.

  19. Assuming that all of these studies are correct (ear lobe creases, thin thighs, etc) I think the danger of all those things is trumped by the really BIG stuff such as: Do you text when you drive? Do you hang out with gang members? etc.

  20. Oh, #4 is definitely me because was I?

    Anyway, studies, shmudies! All death is ultimately caused by shortness of breath. Who cares about ear creases and thin thighs - it's the airway that counts in the end.

  21. @Chaobell: It never occurred to me to behead the others. It all makes so much sense now!

  22. Is the thin thighs because then you'd carry the weight around your mid section?
    Crazy studies. I didn't read it all ( sanity is better this way). Not too worried...accidents happen to tons of people before natural causes do. So, the moral is either be depressed or live your life to the fullest now :) (my mood determines which one I believe at the moment...apparently I'm in a good

  23. LOVED the cat video!!!!

    As for all the other stuff, I try not to worry about things I can't do anything about. I am with Dr. J I try to do things about my health & that is the best I can do. Both my parents died of things unrelated to heredity. I also do a lot more for my health than they did although not to say they did nothing but I do eat healthier & exercise more than they did.

    I think fretting too much over these studies is worse for us. If it is something you can do something about like eating more veggies or moving more, than go for it.

    As for the earlobes, I heard that a long time ago too. Not gonna worry about it!

  24. I love this blog! If having thin thighs is a predictor of heart troubles then it looks like I'm in the clear! While I'm not heavy, I certainly don't have what most would consider "thin thighs". Hallelujah! I've finally caught a break for once! :)

  25. The ostrich in me ignores all those studies...I just don't want to know what I'm supposed to die of!

    Loved the kitty video - I wish my cat would do that!

  26. Here's a weird one--

    When I was a kid, I used to like to spin in circles until I got really dizzy, then flop on the ground till the world stopped spinning. Most of my friends didn't like this, although I could usually talk one or two into trying it.

    As an adult, I read that children who like to spin are at higher risk for substance abuse. The theory is that they are fans of altered states.


  27. Ruth, that is weird. When I was growing up I didn't know anyone who didn't like to spin!

    Earlobe creases???? Pictures? I look at people's ears a lot, and I've never seen anything I would call a crease. Enlighten me.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  28. Sneaking off to look at earlobes, and then check hubby's.

    I want that cat!!

  29. F**king lame! (These indicators, not your post)

    I mean, earlobes... really?! Get outta here. I like to bite those. I'm sure overtime this could give someone creases.

    Nothing to lose sleep over as far as I'm concerned.

  30. This post was fantastic! I was cracking up the whole time & forced my boyfriend to read it too. He loved the video of the cat. I'm new to reading blogs, but I think I'm addicted to this one now. :)

  31. Have you noticed that they always do this with cancer, too? Pretty much everything on Earth either prevents or cures cancer. It seems like we need to step back and see the bigger picture.

  32. Increase fiber s-l-o-w-l-y or be sure to have an account at the big box super store for tp supplies. Not to mention the social ramification of flatulence. Egad. read about the ear crease back in the sixties. Was scary to see them on hubby!

  33. Some of the studies done are just ridiculous. You shouldn't be worrying about things you can't change or control!!

  34. But Mary/Merry, what would we have to blog about if we didn't worry about these things? :(

    Some studies are valid, some are crap, and some are a mixture of both. It's good to develop a healthy balance between skepticism and credulity. Or to eat a helluva load o' cupcakes. Whatever works to get you through the day.

  35. I love the shower kitty. But you also better add almonds with the broccoli.

    I read and look at a lot of studies to write about on my blog and whenever I come across these depressing studies, I always remember that they are so isolated and don't account for other factors in the real world.

  36. Shower Kitty is the cure to earlobe crease. Also try botox or collogen injections, while drinking a gallon of water every day.

  37. This is pretty funny. I found it while trying to investigate my recently-noticed creased earlobes. I feel better (sort of). Thanks :)

  38. The the earlobe crease thing o Dr. Oz. I had to get the mirror right away. He also stated a white ring around the eye could mean high cholestrol. Better start taking better care of myself.

  39. The thing about this earlobe discussion is that while 75% of those with heart disease have an earlobe crease, not all people with earlobe creases have heart disease. What % of the population have earlobe creases and what % of the population have heart disease. Some of this stuff is coincidence rather than predictive


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