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Check your finger lengths if you want to but …

Posted Dec 02 2010 12:00am


Back in July ( Time to give the Daily Mail the finger ) we commented on the strange hypothesis that differences in the lengths of fingers on the right hand might be an indicator of risk for prostate cancer.

Apparently finding a way to kill off this hypothesis may be more difficult that we thought. A new report on Bloomberg News is based on a newly published study in the British Journal of Cancer.

However, we are pleased to see that the report in the British Journal of Cancer is so hedged about with “mays” and “maybes” that it is unlikely to be considered definitive by too many people. We quote as follows (with bold italic type added for emphasis):

  • “The ratio of digit lengths is fixed in utero, and may be a proxy indicator for prenatal testosterone levels.”
  • “Compared with index finger shorter than ring finger …, men with index finger longer than ring finger … showed a negative association, suggesting a protective effect with a 33% risk reduction.”
  • “Pattern of finger lengths may be a simple marker of prostate cancer risk.”

Wouldn’t it be just lovely if something as simple as male finger lengths on the right hand really were a surrogate marker for prostate cancer risk? Unfortunately, even the data provided clearly show that this isn’t the case. Indeed, the authors don’t even seem to be convinced that the premise underlying their hypothesis (i.e., the idea that finger length is a surrogate marker for prenatal testosterone levels) can be justified.

At least it wasn’t our tax dollars that were spent to support this research.

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