Men with short ring fingers may have a better chance of surviving prostate cancer
Men with ring fingers that are shorter than their index fingers are thought to have lower levels of testosterone
14:34 GMT, 15 August 2012
Men with short ring fingers may have a better chance of recovering from prostate cancer, say scientists.
Tests showed cancer victims responded better to an anti-tumour drug if their ring finger was shorter than the index finger – next to the thumb.
Men with short ring fingers are thought to have lower levels of testosterone, a hormone that is known to help prostate tumours grow.
Men with short ring fingers responded better to dutasteride, a drug that fights cancer by blocking the effects of testosterone on the prostate, in a study
Doctors who tested the theory on 142 volunteers found those with short ring fingers responded better to dutasteride, a drug that fights cancer by blocking the effects of testosterone on the prostate.
Numerous studies show finger length is linked to the risks of conditions ranging from heart disease and osteoarthritis to depression and Motor Neurone Disease.
The difference between the two fingers is determined by exposure to testosterone while a baby is still in the womb.
Research suggests this can have a profound effect on health later in life.
Men tend to have a longer ring finger while women tend to have ring and index fingers that are similar in length. But it can vary considerably from one person to another.
Nearly 40,000 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed every year in the UK and 10,000 men die from it – the equivalent of more than one an hour.
The risks increase with age, with men over 50 more likely to develop a tumour, and there is a strong genetic element to it.
But the latest findings, by experts at Seoul National University in South Korea, suggest doctors might soon be able to predict who will respond best to treatment by measuring men’s fingers.
Although the men in the study did not have cancer, they did have enlarged prostates or benign prostatic hyperplasia, a common condition in men over 50 where the prostate grows and blocks the flow of urine.
Dutasteride has been used for several years to treat BPH and prostate cancer. The volunteers took the drug every day for six months.
When their prostate glands were measured to see if they had shrunk, there was a much bigger reduction in men with short ring fingers.
In a report in the British Journal of Urology the researchers said: ‘These results suggest finger length might predict the response to dutasteride treatment.’
Experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US recently discovered women who have a short ring finger compared to the length of the index finger are much more likely to rely on satellite navigation technology to find their way round.
But women whose ring fingers are a similar length or longer than their index finger have a greater sense of direction.
British research shows finger length can even dictate sporting ability.
Males with ring fingers that are longer than their index fingers make better sprinters.
Boys aged up to 17 were tested and their fingers measured before being timed over a 50 metres sprint. The results showed those with longer ring fingers were faster at every stage of the race.