Holding Hands Is Dirtier Than You Thought

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Holding Hands Is Dirtier Than You Thought
Think hand holding is the purest act this side of abstinence? Think again.

As if there weren't enough scientific non-sequiturs floating around about sex, researchers had to go and make even the most PG of acts icky: hand holding. Thanks science!

A team of researchers at the University of Colorado took bacteria samples from 102 hands, and found a combined number of 4,737 unique strands of bacteria. As if that weren't shocking enough, according to the team women have a much "greater diversity" of bacteria on their hands than men, and a higher number of innate bacteria living under the skin that can't be washed away.

So like periods, pregnancy, and cellulite, are bacteria-rich hands just another casualty of being a member of the fairer sex? In a word, yes, but as with most of these studies, scientists aren't 100% sure why.

One theory is that female skin isn't as acidic as a man's and not as adept at killing off latent germs. Another theory pinpoints all those fancy, sweet-smelling (and often pointless) creams we insist on slathering on our bodies daily. And lastly, when all else fails, blame it on hormones.

While researchers won't deny this makes holding hands with a woman a much dirtier, riskier act than previously thought, they also assure germaphobic readers that the "vast majority" of these strands are either harmless or even beneficial.

So in a nutshell, if hand holding is your riskiest offense when it comes to dalliances with the opposite sex, give yourself a prurient pat on the back.

And then go wash your hands. And your back.