Finger length may be associated with prostate cancer risk, according to a study published in the British Journal of Cancer (2010; online ahead of print).

Researchers at the University of Warwick and the Institute of Cancer in the United Kingdom collected information over a 15-year period on 1,524 prostate cancer patients aged 80 years or younger and compared these data to 3,044 controls. Participants completed questionnaires asking them to identify the finger length pattern on their right hand as nearest to a series of pictures provided, with clear instruction of how best to compare their hand with pictures provided. Furthermore, there were three illustrations indicating the index finger (2D) longer than the ring finger (4D), the index finger equally as long as the ring finger, and the index shorter than the ring finger.

Compared with men who had index fingers shorter than their ring fingers, those whose index fingers were longer than their ringers (high 2D:4D) had a 33% decreased risk of PCa. In the age group younger than 60 years, the reduction in risk was 87%.

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“High 2D:4D hand pattern may be the marker of low prenatal androgenic activity, suggesting the importance of hormone modulation in utero on prostate cancer risk,” the authors concluded. “Hand pattern might represent a simple marker for prostate cancer risk, particularly in men age under 60 years.”

The authors noted that intrauterine exposure of hormones influences the development of other adult-onset diseases.