'With every exhalation you might emit millions of influenza viruses and your handshake might transfer salmonella bacteria.'

London - The age-old custom of greeting with a handshake could be on its way out as many of us prefer to meet with a hug or even a kiss, a survey suggests.

Almost 50 percent are using alternative ways to greet, with 16 percent preferring a continental-style peck on the cheek and nearly a third opting for a hug.

One in five feel shaking hands is ‘too formal’, while 42 percent said they would only do it in a business context.

A further 42 percent of those surveyed said they would never shake hands when greeting friends.

One in 12 said they prefer not to do it in case germs are passed on. The typical hand has about 150 different bacteria living on it.

Nearly a quarter claimed that the firm handshake is an outdated display of masculinity.

However, the study of 1,003 participants, commissioned by soap firm Radox, found some 87 percent still believe it is more appropriate in business, while 73 percent agree they would rather offer one when meeting someone new.

The research estimated that the Queen has shaken half a million hands, compared with an average of 670 for men and 304 for women. - Daily Mail