Seven Red Flags You're Aging Fast

Is your body is sending you a message that diseases of old age are creeping up on you? Dr. Oz reveals 7 red flags that you could be aging too fast. Break out the measuring tape, a mirror and a little medical know-how, it's time for a self-exam.

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When it comes to aging, there are so many environmental, genetic and biological factors it is hard to gauge the rate an individual will age. But the human body is remarkable about broadcasting clues that can foreshadow future problems. If you are tuned in to these small pieces of information and can learn to recognize the implications, you might be able to successfully slow the aging process.

Finger Length

If you ask a palm reader, they'll tell you there is a lot that can be interpreted from the lines, lengths and shape of the hand. And they may be on to something. Research is separating science from superstition: by examining each finger, you might discover subtle hints about future joint deterioration. Studies have shown that women with index fingers (digit number 2) shorter than their ring fingers (digit number 4) are at higher risk for osteoarthritis, particularly the knee.  

Osteoarthritis is a painful degenerative disease that worsens as we age. Although it can be caused by a prior injury or years of being overweight and/or physically inactive, the biological influence is thought to be hormones, principally estrogen and testosterone. These hormones also affect the length of fingers, particularly the ring finger. A man's index finger is typically shorter than his ring finger because he receives more testosterone, while a woman's index and ring fingers are more equal in length. And since osteoarthritis typically occurs at an advanced age when hormones wane, the relationship between finger length and osteoarthritis seems plausible.

Bra Size

We already know that body fat influences the risk for type 2 diabetes, a condition marked by high blood glucose from ineffective insulin (insulin resistance), the hormone that shuttles sugar in and out of cells. People who are overweight are at much higher risk for type 2 diabetes because fat cells are less responsive to insulin compared to non-fat cells (like muscle). Breast development begins in puberty and continues through the early 20s. Young breast tissue is comprised of highly active fat cells, so breast size could be a marker for type 2 diabetes.

Using the information collected during a long-term Nurses Health Study, Canadian researchers found that women who wore a D cup or greater during their 20s had an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. However, it is unclear whether the hormonally active breast tissue contributes more to insulin resistance than other types of fat tissue.

Behind-the-Knee Pain

Finding the source of pain behind the knee can be tricky due to the knee's complex anatomy that includes bone, tendons, fluid, ligaments, arteries and veins. Behind the knee, there is a large vein that, when blocked, can cause swelling that is hot to the touch and sometimes painful.

Blood clots tend to form here because the knee sits low in the body and is crimped when the leg is bent, sometimes for hours on end. This prevents the one-way valves in the vein from flowing freely back up to the heart, causing blood to pool and become prone to clots. If these clots should break away and travel in the bloodstream, they can lodge in blood vessels elsewhere - in the brain (causing stroke), lungs (causing lung embolism) and heart (causing heart attack).