Finger length predicts prostate cancer risk: study

Dec 01, 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.

Explore further: DNA blood test detects lung cancer mutations

Related Stories

Genetic marker may predict early onset of prostate cancer

May 15, 2009

Fox Chase Cancer Center researchers have identified a genetic marker that is associated with an earlier onset of prostate cancer in Caucasian men who have a family history of prostate cancer. If the data are confirmed, the ...

Recommended for you

DNA blood test detects lung cancer mutations

23 hours ago

Cancer DNA circulating in the bloodstream of lung cancer patients can provide doctors with vital mutation information that can help optimise treatment when tumour tissue is not available, an international group of researchers ...

Tumors prefer the easy way out

Apr 17, 2015

Tumor cells become lethal when they spread. Blocking this process can be a powerful way to stop cancer. Historically, scientists thought that tumor cells migrated by brute force, actively pushing through whatever ...

Brain tumors may be new targets of Ebola-like virus

Apr 17, 2015

Brain tumors are notoriously difficult for most drugs to reach, but Yale researchers have found a promising but unlikely new ally against brain cancers—portions of a deadly virus similar to Ebola.

User comments : 0

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.