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Cancer indicators - is there a link between prostate cancer and the length of your fingers?

Wednesday 13 July, 2011 by Laura

Gentlemen, I'd like to give you one less thing to worry about – your finger length. And there is no big foot, big shoe innuendo coming, I promise. The good news is... that finger length is not an indicator of prostate cancer risk.

Earlier this year two reports described an increase in prostate cancer incidence in men whose ring fingers (fourth digit, 4D) were longer than their index fingers (second digit, 2D).

Hand with labelled fingers: thumb, index, middle, ring and pinkyHowever, analysis of 6,258 men that are part of the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study (MCCS) found no association between finger length and prostate cancer risk.

The reason this study carries more punch is that it is a large population-based cohort with complete follow-up in terms of cancer diagnosis. This is compared to a much smaller study where patients were presenting with urinary tract infections and a second where they compared patients and controls using self-assessed finger length data.

There is a tendency for us to believe that cancer is out of our control – that it's a factor of our environment, is down to family history or is something that just ‘happens'. But in truth, one third of cancer deaths are due to avoidable risks, compared to one in 10 that are caused by faulty genes.

So, instead of worrying about risk factors that we clearly can't control – and that may not even be risk factors – perhaps it makes more sense to focus on those we can. It's all about the magnificent 7!

Just a quick reminder:

1) Get checked*
2) Limit alcohol
3) Eat a healthy diet
4) Be physically active
5) Be SunSmart
6) Quit
7) Maintain a healthy weight.

If you want to see how your lifestyle measures up take our quiz and sign up to our monthly newsletter to get cancer-cutting tips.

And remember, unless you have aspirations of becoming a concert pianist, finger length is not an indicator of anything other than your glove size.

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*There is currently no test to differentiate between prostate cancers that are slow-growing and unlikely to cause harm and those that are aggressive and require treatment. Because the side effects of prostate cancer testing and treatment are often very serious, we encourage men concerned about prostate cancer to speak to their doctor to make an informed decision about whether testing is right for them. Visit Prostate Health for more information.

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