A Toe-Tale Sign: Can Your Toenails Predict Lung Cancer?

In a novel experiment, scientists took toenail clippings from men, both smokers and nonsmokers, and screened them for nicotine levels. More than a decade later, the results show that nicotine detected in the toenail samples correlated with smokers’ diagnosis of lung cancer.

While the toenail study was too small to be used as an objective measure, researchers said they did find that men with cancer had higher levels of nicotine in their toenails than those without cancer. And in the final analysis:

“When the authors adjusted their analyses for how much and for how long the men smoked and their physical activity levels, men with nicotine levels in the highest quintile had a more than trebled risk of lung cancer. …

“The general health message remains the same: the best way to reduce your risk of lung cancer, as well as numerous other respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, cancers and disease complications, is to stop smoking.”