Gross: Science Says You Should Quit Shaking Hands, Stat

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In today’s news of everyday activities that are totally gross: A new study published in the American Journal of Infection Control, and reported today on The Week, shows that when it comes to common greetings, choosing a handshake over a fist bump increases your chance of transferring potentially disease-causing bacteria by a whopping 90 percent. (Insert face with jaw dropped here)


Researchers at Aberystwyth University used rubber gloves and dipped their hands into a “bacterial broth” (ick). Then they tested the transfer of bacteria during high fives, handshakes and fist bumps. Turns out, the handshake, which you’ve probably used at least once today, is basically a germ sandwich, and the chance of transferring bacteria is high.

{See Also: The Germiest Thing You Touch on an Airplane}

The researchers found that when they high-fived instead of shaking hands, the number of germs transferred reduced by over half; when they fist-bumped, the transfer of bacteria went down by 90 percent. The researchers figure the drop in germ transfer is probably a result of the fist-bump's speed, paired with the fact that less skin is interacting. So the lesson here: Fist-bumping frat boys are on to something.

As one of the study’s researchers, Dave Whitworth, explained on the University’s website, “People rarely think about the health implications of shaking hands. If the general public could be encouraged to fist-bump, there is genuine potential to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.” The good news? You can finally stop stressing about whether your handshake is firm enough.

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