Occasionally I run across a study that manages to be both hilariously funny and informative at the same time. That was the case with a recent study published in The Journal of Hospital Infection which set out to find whether replacing the standard issue handshake with a modern fist bump could reduce the risk of infection.
Researchers at West Virginia University had a small group of volunteers alternate between shaking hands and fist bumping. If you’re not sure what a fist bump is simply picture a two people literally bumping their closed fists together.
They found that the handshakes were exposing more than three times as much skin surface area to contact as the fist bump… and that contact averaged 2.7 times longer when shaking heads than when fist bumping.
Not surprisingly, when they cultured the bacteria that grew on their hands they found that more bacteria were transmitted with the good old-fashioned handshake.
The researchers concluded that “the fist bump is an effective alternative to the handshake in a hospital setting.” And that the fist bump “may lead to decreased transmission of bacteria…”
Now I can’t argue with the WVU team’s results, but I do have to admit that just the thought of my doctor fist bumping me after a hospital visit makes me literally laugh out loud.
I’m not sure if the fist bump is going to take the medical community by storm or not. But while we wait to find out I suggest you simply wash your hands frequently… especially now during flu and cold season... and shore up your immune system with a good probiotic, vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, garlic, and green tea.