Long red nails are a much sought after fashion accessory, but do you know where they have been?
Research published yesterday in the respected British medical journal 'The Lancet' claims that women who have long nails are over twenty times more likely to transmit bacteria and viruses associated with food poisoning and diarrhoea.
In a world first, a team lead by Dr Sebastian Brown-Squirts of the London School of Hygiene, the presence of potentially dangerous organisms were monitored in 120 women for two weeks. Woman with the longest nails carried the greatest risk of transmitting bacteria usually associated with disease.
"We believe that the reduced manual dexterity of women with long, natural nails prevents effective hand washing that is usually able to remove most bacteria" explained Dr Brown-Squirts.
A spokesperson for one of the United Kingdom's largest fashion houses described the research as "disgusting" and "unsavoury" and did not believe that it could be true.
"Extremely long nails are able to puncture most toilet paper and this may contribute to the greater likelihood of women being regularly dosed with bacteria" according to Dr Brown-Squirts.
Repeated outbreaks of diarrhoea at one of London's most well known beauty schools was traced to the cafeteria and food handling by students, all of whom had long nails.
Professor Poojab of the British National Health Service said that the research was "important" and a "hitherto unexplored means of disease transmission".
Bright red nail polish may we end up being warning signal rather than a fashion accessory.
Just how far will women go for beauty? As one study participant said, "A night on the loo is just going to far".