Last year British researchers reported new confirmative findings for a link between index finger length (relative to ring finger length) and the risk of developing prostate cancer. Men featured with a longer index finger than ring finger, appear to have a 33% higher chance for not developing prostate cancer.

Often such studies are qualified by non-experts as “nonsense” – initially because of the association with classical palmistry. Usually a main argument of concern is the seize of the studied sample: many ‘2D:4D digit ratio’ studies have been focused relatively small samples, and usually with the statistics were simly not strong enough to be applied to individuals. But those arguments can not be used to the describe the new British study!

The new British research involves a study where the hands of 1,524 prostate cancer patients were examined, which were compared with a control group of 3,044 men.

It can also be noted that Professor John Manning described in his second book ‘The Finger Book‘ with great details the suspected link between the ‘2D:4D digit ratio’ and prostate cancer – a complex theory about of role glutamine chains in the sensitivity of hormone receptors, which in their turn play a role in the activation of testosterone in the body:

…The various forms of the androgen receptor have important consequences for our health and behaviour. For example, African-American men have shorter glutamine chains (high sensitivity to testosterone) than white men. Short glutamine chains are associated with an increased susceptibility to prostate cancer, and this may in part explain why the incidence of prostate cancer is higher in African-Americans than in white Americans. …”

In short, there seems to exist a triangular relationship between: 1) the high percentage of prostate cancer in Americans with African ancestry, 2) the length of the glutamine chains, and 3) the length ratio between index finger and ring finger.

The importance of the new British study can be recognized in the fact the use of preventive screening for prostate cancer – which is anno 2010 usually done through the use of a blood test – is still an object of confusion. Simply because the benefits of the screening devices are still very unclear. Meanwhile it is a fact that prostate cancer is known as the No. 1 cause of death from cancer in men (see picture below).

Therfore finger length assessment can become a new tool in prostate cancer screeing!

The British researchers therefore are speculating about how to add a practical application of their finger length study to the traditional methods of prostate cancer prevention screening!

More finger length studies
How to read your own palm!

The hand of a white faced Capuchin primate monkey.The human hand & the hand of some primates.

Finger length in primates linked with cooperative, competitive, and sexual behavior!

Research at the universities of Liverpool and Oxford into the finger length of various primate species has revealed that cooperative, competive & sexual behavior is linked to exposure to hormone levels in the womb!

The British scientists used finger length ratio measurements as an indicator of the levels of exposure to the hormone and compared this data with social behaviour in primate groups.

Primates such as baboons and rhesus macaques, have a low ‘2D:4D digit ratio’ (= a longer fourth finger [ring finger] compared to the second finger [pointer finger]), and these species tend to be highly competitive and promiscuous.

While gibbons and many New World monkey species have higher ‘2D:4D digit ratio’ (but still lower than the average human digit ratio), and these primate species were monogamous and less competitive than Old World monkeys.

The results also show that Great Apes, such as orangutans and chimpanzees, expressed a different finger ratio. The analysis suggests that early androgen exposure is lower in this groups compared to Old World monkeys. Lower androgen levels could help explain why Great Apes show high levels of male cooperation and tolerance.

Emma Nelson

Primate researcher Emma Nelson explains:

“It is thought that prenatal androgens affect the genes responsible for the development of fingers, toes and the reproductive system. High androgen levels from a foetus or mother during pregnancy, may alter gene function and lead to subtle changes in relative digit length and the functioning of the reproductive system. Finger ratios do not change very much after birth and appear to tell us something about how very early androgens affect adult behaviour, particularly behaviour linked to mating and reproduction.”

ILLUSTRATION: A comparison of the human hand with primate hands reveals that only the human hand is featured with a long opposable thumb!
Comparison of primate hands: only the human hand is featured with a long opposable thumb!


Finger length linked with social behavior!
Understanding our past: “the primate hand vs. the human hand”!
Evolution of the human hand & the mystery of the 5 fingers!