Health

Index Finger Length Can Be a Clue to Prostate Cancer Risk

The prostate is the gland below a man’s bladder that produces fluid for semen. Prostate cancer is a malignant tumor growth that consists of cells from the prostate gland. The tumor usually grows slowly and remains confined to the gland for many years. As the cancer advances, however, it can spread beyond the prostate into the surrounding tissues local spread. Moreover, the cancer also can spread even farther throughout other areas of the body, such as the bones, lungs, and liver. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of deaths from cancer among U.S. men.

The American Cancer Society states that, prostate cancer is least common among Asian men and most common among black men, with figures for white men in between. Prostate cancer develops primarily in men over fifty. Around 35,000 cases are diagnosed every year and of which around 10,000 die of it. However, these high rates may be affected by increasing rates of detection.

According to new research, the length of the index finger could hold a clue about prostate cancer risk. Results show that finger length could be used as a simple test for prostate cancer risk, particularly in men aged under 60. Men with index fingers longer than their ring fingers are significantly less likely to develop the disease than those with a finger pattern the other way round.

The length of the fingers is fixed before birth and it is thought to relate to the levels of sex hormones the baby is exposed to in the womb. Being exposed to less testosterone before birth results in a longer index finger and may protect against prostate cancer later in life. Finger pattern could help identify which men should undergo regular screening, especially in combination with genetic testing or other risk factors such as a family history of the disease.

Researchers made the discovery after comparing the hands of 1,500 prostate cancer patients with 3,000 healthy men. Men were shown pictures of hands with different finger lengths and asked to identify the one most like their own right hand. 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.

In men, testosterone plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as the testis and prostate as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle, bone mass and hair growth. Men being exposed to less testosterone before birth helps protect against prostate cancer later in life. The phenomenon is thought to occur because the genes HOXA and HOXD control both finger length and development of sex organs. On the other hand if there is an increase in testosterone level it may cause faster growth of existing prostate cancer or cause a new prostate cancer to develop.

This research brings us another step closer to help determine the risk factors for prostate cancer, which is possibly the biggest concern in current studies about preventing and treating the disease.

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