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BOOSTER SHOTS: Oddities, musings and news from the
health world

People with Lou Gehrig's disease tend to have longer ring fingers

May 10, 2011|By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
  • A new study finds people with Lou Gehrig's disease tend to have longer ring fingers, compared with their index fingers, than people without the disease.
A new study finds people with Lou Gehrig's disease tend to have longer… (Wikimedia Commons )

Perhaps there’s more to predicting our future via the hand than we thought -- but the clues may not come from the palm, so much as the finger length. The latest in a handful of studies linking finger length to various traits concludes that people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, tend to have longer ring fingers, compared with their index fingers, than do people without the disease.

British researchers measured the length of the index and ring fingers of 110 people with and without ALS. Dividing the index-finger length by the ring-finger length gives a ratio that is linked to testosterone levels in the womb, which is related, unsurprisingly, to whether the hand belongs to a male.

More men get ALS than women, but researchers wanted to test whether high levels of testosterone, not simply being male, might be associated with the disease. After controlling for gender, researchers found the index-to-ring finger ratio was lower among the patients with ALS, they reported online last week in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

But that doesn’t mean people with longer ring fingers are necessarily at greater risk for the rare disease—HealthDay News offers a full take.

Previous studies have connected index- and ring-finger length to SAT performance, index-finger length to prostate cancer risk, likelihood of homosexuality  and...likelihood of financial success.

Then there’s the research finding that long index fingers are linked to good research skills – in men.

Those good-research-skills findings offer an explanation that hints at some of the other findings: “The length of fingers is genetically linked to the sex hormones, and a person with an index finger shorter than the ring finger will have had more testosterone while in the womb, and a person with an index finger longer than the ring finger will have had more estrogen. The difference in the lengths can be small – as little as two or three per cent – but important.”

But still, when it comes to finger length’s ability to predict character traits or disease risk, take it with a grain of salt.

healthkey@tribune.com

RELATED: More news from HealthKey

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