|Remember the Fickle|
Finger of Fate?
WARNING: This message contains adult content (along with something that purports to be 'science'). Digital discretion advised.
Well, we often hear that someone with loving hands is a good lover. This can be taken both literally and as a figure (or finger) of speech. The structure of hands isn't often thought of as a sexual attribute. But maybe that has to change.
Not long ago Holly posted about the finding that Neanderthals were sex-obsessed thugs, based on the length of their finger bones, which indicates apparently how much exposure they had to testosterone in utero.
Now, to add to the complexity of the sexual finger is a story in the British Journal of Cancer about male finger configurations and the risk of prostate cancer.
The ratio of 2nd and 4th digit length is fixed in utero (2D : 4D ratio), and is sexually dimorphic, lower in men than in women. To date, only one longitudinal study has investigated digit ratio and prostate volume, PSA level and the prostate cancer risk. The ratio (2D : 4D) is negatively related to testosterone and related phenotypes, such as sperm counts, and positively related to oestrogen concentrations. Accordingly, digit length pattern may act as a proxy indicator for the underlying prenatal testosterone levels. We therefore investigated this in a large case–control study of prostate cancer to explore whether there is any association between hand pattern and prostate cancer risk.That is, men whose index finger (2D) is longer than their ring finger (4D) were a third less likely to develop prostate cancer than men whose ring finger was longer. But on the right hand only, not the left. (Handedness even in sex!) And, the previous study mentioned is the "Korean Cohort study" of 366 men, which found a negative association between digit ration and PSA, a measure of prostate cancer that is notoriously not terribly sensitive.
As the BBC sums it up,
Being exposed to less testosterone before birth results in a longer index finger and may protect against prostate cancer later in life, say researchers at the University of Warwick and the Institute of Cancer Research.Does this mean that if you are at high risk of prostate cancer, you're also a sex-obsessed rapine thug? Or, does this mean that Neanderthal men all had prostate cancer? Have our noble investigators thought (yet) about getting a grant to give DREs (digital research exams, that is) to prisoners convicted of sexual crimes? When will DRE results be admissible evidence in sexual abuse trials or preventive surveillance?
So this study is based on two assumptions -- one, relative finger length is indeed a reflection of testosterone levels during the development of the hand, and two, embryonic testosterone levels in fact influence risk of prostate cancer sixty or seventy years later.
However, neither of these assumptions is tested by this study. The study itself even says, cautiously enough, that digit length ratio "may [our italics] be a proxy indicator for prenatal testosterone levels." And the authors write that other adult diseases have been associated with uterine hormone levels. The implication being: Thus, why not prostate cancer?
This is on the nearly silly side, another use of research funds that probably shouldn't. In addition to the issues we mention above, more than half of men have the Fickle Finger trait (wait, does this mean that the other 1/2 of men are not sex-obsessed? Impossible! Who ever heard of a man who was not sex-obsessed?), yet the risk of clinical prostate cancer even by old age is only about 150 per 100,000 men. Indeed, just as with PSA testing, the Finger Test could lead to a lot of screening in the Long Fingered, that could, like PSA testing, cause more morbidity and problems due to intervention than it solves. That's because most males of elder years have some prostate cancer, and most of those lesions never progress to a clinical stage before something more serious (and fatal) intervenes.
Of course, on the positive side, a glance at the hand is less embarrassing than a real DRE (digital rectal exam), or a PSA test to look for prostate cancer. It may be as useful, at least in terms of risk. It's a lot cheaper. Of course the PSA testing companies are likely to resist this current interpretation. And with similar disinterest, what do the investigators say? "We need a lot more research" (of course).
It all goes to show that even since our ancient fossil ancestors, women should be doing a size test on the guys they date, rather than just casually holding hands--and be prepared for what he might be want to do! He may want his hands all over you....but it may be in his genes, so to speak, and how could he be blamed??