William B. Bean’s 35 year study on fingernail growth!

October 7, 2009

Fingernail measurement.

In 1941 Dr. William Bennett Bean started his study on nail growth. His investigation began back in 1941 when he filed a horizontal line just above the cuticle and then measured its stately progress up the fingernail.

The American physician subsequently published his findings – once (incorrectly) described as the most boring scientific study ever undertaken – as “Nail growth: 35 years of investigation”.

The actual rate of growth one may (or may not) be interested to learn is 0.123mm a day. But what is remarkable is its staggering constancy over many years – almost as if the nails were aware of the higher purpose they are intended to serve.

The growth slowed remarkably when Dr Bean was laid low by mumps, but compensated by doubling its speed for the following six months. Disease and trauma might be expected to have an adverse effect, but not so: the nails accelerate as if to “grow out” the damage – a fifth as fast again in regular nail-biters.

The only other body part (besides the hair) that shows a similar constancy of growth in adulthood are the ears. They increase in size by the same amount in a year as the nail does in a day.

A milestone in William Bean’s nail growth research concerns his 1963 paper:

‘A Discourse on Nail Growth and Unusual Fingernails’

William Bennett Bean (1909-1989)

William Bennett Bean
(8 Nov 1909 – 1 Mar 1989)

American physician and author. His research in nutrition included induced vitamin deficiencies in humans. He contributed more than 500 articles to professional journals, served on editorial boards, and wrote several books.

RELATED STORIES & MORE:
Research says: ‘nails grow faster on a protein-diet & vitamin D!’
Lee Redmond’s story behind ‘World longest fingernails’!
The latest news about fingernails
More fingernail reports at ‘HandFacts’

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