Men's health * 50+ health * Healthy living

Finger length linked to risk of prostate cancer

Finger length linked to risk of prostate cancer Long index finger is better

Men who have long index fingers are at lower risk of prostate cancer, according to a new study.

Men with an index finger longer than their ring finger were one third less likely to develop the disease than men with the opposite finger length pattern.

“Our results show that relative finger length could be used as a simple test for prostate cancer risk, particularly in men aged under 60,” said Professor Ros Eeles from the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

“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.”

Researchers from Warwick University and the ICR compared finger length patterns of more than 15,000 men with prostate cancer with 3,000 without the disease.

The most common finger length pattern, seen in more than half the men in the study, was a shorter index than ring finger.

Men whose index and ring fingers were the same length (about 19 per cent) 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.

The reduction in prostate cancer risk 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 relative length of index and ring fingers is set before birth, said the scientists, and is thought to relate to the levels of sex hormones the baby is exposed to in the womb. 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.

Professor Ken Muir, who co-led the study, said: “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.”

The findings are published in the British Journal of Cancer.

This article was published on Wed 1 December 2010

Image © Andrey Ushakov -

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