Finger length predicts prostate cancer risk: study

December 1, 2010

Men whose index fingers are longer than their ring, or fourth, fingers run a significantly lower risk of prostate cancer, according to a study published Wednesday in the British Journal of Cancer.

The chances of developing the disease drop by a third, and even more in younger men, the study found.

"Our results show that relative finger length could be used as a simple test for risk, particularly in men aged under 60," said Ros Eeles, a professor at the Institute of in Britain and co-author of the study.

Finger pattern could help identify which men should undergo regular screening, especially in combination with genetic testing or other risk factors such as a family history of the disease, she said.

From 1994 to 2009, Eeles and colleagues questioned more than 1,500 prostate cancer patients in Britain, along with 3,000 healthy control cases.

For more than half the men, the index was shorter than the ring finger. Compared to this group, men whose index and ring fingers were the same length -- 19 percent of the cohort -- had a similar prostate cancer risk.

But when the index finger was longer, the risk of developing the disease dropped by 33 percent.

Men under 60 were 87 percent less likely to be in the cancer group.

The relative length of the two fingers in question -- set before birth -- appears to be a marker of different levels of to which a baby is exposed in the womb, with less testosterone correlating with a longer index finger.

Earlier research has shown that testosterone promotes the growth of prostate cancer.

Underlying the unexpected connection between digits and cancer are two genes, HOXA and HOXD, that control both finger length and the development of sex organs.

Other studies have found a link between exposure to hormones before birth and the development of other diseases, including and osteoarthritis.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Five novel genetic changes linked to pancreatic cancer risk

February 21, 2018
In what is believed to be the largest pancreatic cancer genome-wide association study to date, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute, and collaborators from over 80 other ...

Similarities found in cancer initiation in kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas

February 21, 2018
Recent research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis demonstrated that mature cells in the stomach sometimes revert back to behaving like rapidly dividing stem cells. Now, the researchers have found that ...

New technique predicts gene resistance to cancer treatments

February 21, 2018
Yale School of Public Health researchers have developed a new method to predict likely resistance paths to cancer therapeutics, and a methodology to apply it to one of the most frequent cancer-causing genes.

Genes activated in metastasis also drive the first stages of tumour growth

February 21, 2018
In spite of the difference between the cell functions responsible for giving rise to a tumour and that give rise to metastasis, studies at IRB Barcelona using the fly Drosophila melanogaster reveal that some genes can drive ...

Research could change how doctors treat leukemia and other cancers fed by fat

February 21, 2018
Obesity and cancer risk have a mysterious relationship, with obesity increasing the risk for 13 types of cancer. For some cancers—including pediatric cancers—obesity affects survival rates, which are lower for people ...

Researchers discover novel mechanism linking changes in mitochondria to cancer cell death

February 20, 2018
To stop the spread of cancer, cancer cells must die. Unfortunately, many types of cancer cells seem to use innate mechanisms that block cancer cell death, therefore allowing the cancer to metastasize. While seeking to further ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.