Can finger length predict your risk of disease?

I can guarantee that after reading this, if you are male, then you will examine the length of your fingers. Well, I did anyway. Why? Because a study in the British Journal of Cancer suggests that men whose index finger is longer than their ring finger were significantly less likely to develop prostate cancer.
This research needs several health warnings and caveats. Just because your index finger is longer than you ring finger, it does not mean that you are in the clear with regards to prostate cancer. In fact, in the study 347 men (22.8%) whose index finger was longer than their ring finger, had prostate cancer. But that compared to 936 (30.8%) of the healthy controls giving an odds ratio of 0.67. In plain terms it means those men whose index fingers were longer were a third less likely to have prostate cancer. And just because your ring finger is shorter, or the same length as your index finger, it does not mean you will get prostate cancer. Important that we clear that up at the start. Have you looked at your fingers yet?
But there is a good biological explanation: we know that exposure to male or female hormones in utero determines how long your fingers are. We also know that prostate cancer is driven by testosterone levels later in life. Now we have a biologically plausible explanation for some of the early risk factors.
There are also suggestions of a link between finger length and heart disease, breast cancer, autism and even musical ability. But the study groups seem to involve very small numbers of people.

1 comment:

  1. Signs and portents. How do you prove a negative? Are the conditions discovered from some ancient texts, folk knowledg or just made up?