From time to time I get questions from people who are very concerned that they have 10 ulnar loops on their fingerprints, and they have heard that 8 or more loops shows a risk for Alzheimer's. This bit of misinformation originates from the Arch Neurol, Vol. 42, No. 1. (January 1985), pp. 50-54.
"Fingerprint dermatoglyphic patterns in 50 patients with presumed senile dementia of the Alzheimer type (SDAT) were compared with a control group of 50 patients with other neurologic diseases and with population norms. Patients with SDAT showed a significantly increased frequency of ulnar loops on their fingertips and a concomitantly decreased frequency of whorls and arches. A pattern of eight or more ulnar loops was found significantly more often in patients with SDAT (72%) than in the control group (26%). Fourteen patients with SDAT had ulnar loops on all ten fingers; this occurred in four patients in the control group. Radial loops on the fourth and fifth digits were more prevalent in patients with SDAT."
I have several problems with this study.
- The study used only 100 people total - 50 in the Alzheimer's group and 50 in the control group with other neurological diseases and with population norms. The results cannot be considered statistically accurate with such a small group until the same results are duplicated with further test groups.
- According to the Avdeychik/Lagerstrom fingerprint coding system (which compares fingerprint combinations of more than 50,000 individuals) a radial loop on only the 4th and 5th digits is coded as R:4/X or R:X/4 (X can be any number). This shows a definite congenital health anomaly, regardless of what the other fingerprint patterns are - The ulnar loops are irrelevant.
- Fingerprint whorls show an elevated risk for heart attack (myocardial infarction) but loops do not. Heart attacks are a risk at a much younger age than Alzheimer's, so some of the people with whorled prints die before they can develop senile dementia. This means that there would naturally be a higher occurrence of ulnar loops among the elderly.
- With the human body, it's a matter of "use it or lose it". Just as with the muscles, the brain will lose efficiency if it's not used enough. People with whorled prints are more focussed and driven in their own specific areas of interest, so they tend to keep challenging their mind well into old age much more than people with ulnar loops.
For the reasons stated above, simply having 10 ulnar looped fingerprints DOES NOT appear to indicate much of a heightened risk for Alzheimer's, and even that risk is minimized by continuing to challenge the brain.