A surprising new study just published in the British Journal of Cancer has found a link between the length of a man’s index finger and cancer risk.
The study, led by The University of Warwick and The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), found that men whose index finger is longer than their ring finger were thirty percent less likely to develop prostrate cancer than men with a longer ring finger.
“Our results show that relative finger length could be used as a simple test for prostate cancer risk, particularly in men aged under 60,” Joint senior author Professor Ros Eeles from the ICR and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust says. “This exciting finding means that finger pattern could potentially be used to select at-risk men for ongoing screening, perhaps in combination with other factors such as family history or genetic testing.”
The most common finger length pattern of the participants was a longer ring finger than the index finger. Men whose index and ring fingers were the same length had a similar prostate cancer risk, but men whose index fingers were longer than their ring finger were 33 per cent less likely to have prostate cancer. Risk reduction was even greater in men aged under 60 years– these men were 87 per cent less likely to be in the prostate cancer group!
The length of our fingers is set in the womb–it is thought to relate to the levels of sex hormones the embryo is exposed to before it is born. Less testosterone leads to a longer index finger; the researchers now believe that being exposed to less testosterone before birth helps protect against prostate cancer later in life. This is thought to happen because the genes HOXA and HOXD control both finger length and the development of sex organs.
Joint senior author, Professor Ken Muir, says: “Our study indicates it is the hormone levels that babies are exposed to in the womb which can have an effect decades later. As our research continues, we will be able to look at a further range of factors that may be involved in the make-up of the disease.”