Feature

Health scare of the week: Men’s dirty hands

A new study found more than two-thirds of men do not adequately wash their hands after using the toilet.

You might want to think twice before shaking a man’s hand. More than two-thirds of men, a new study found, do not adequately wash their hands after using the toilet. Researchers in London used sensors to monitor how much soap was used by each of 250,000 restroom visitors. Women were far more diligent than men, the study revealed: Sixty-four percent of women washed with soap, compared with only 32 percent of men. The stark difference probably reflects the fact that some of the men “were only urinating,” researcher Val Curtis tells CNN.com, so “they think they don’t need to wash their hands even if they should.” On entering the restrooms, subjects were shown messages to encourage hand washing. While women were positively influenced by indirect reminders such as “Water doesn’t kill germs, soap does,” men responded only to more graphic messages like “Soap it off or eat it later.” This suggests that social pressure is a strong motivator. “If they think other people are watching them,” Curtis says, “they are more likely to wash hands.”

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