By MUIREANN PRENDERGAST, Contributing Columnist and Susan Callahan, Health Editor
Fingers, those digits dangling at the ends of our wrists, are our first toys. From the times we are infants, we are constantly playing with them, nibbling them, playing with them, and relying on them as fearless "pointers" to test our world. How does something taste? Stick a finger in it. Is something too hot? Stick a finger in it.
But did you know that your fingers --- or at least your finger length --- can actually tell you plenty about yourself. Fingers say a lot about your intelligence, artistic abilities, your tendency to be aggressive, your risk for some kinds of cancer, your overall health, and even your sexuality. What do short index fingers mean? What does it mean when your ring finger is very long? What diseases are predicted by finger length?
Here's a top 10 list of what our finger length say about you and your health:
What Fingers Reveal About Your Health
1. Short Index Fingers Predict Aggression
A 2005 study carried out at Canada's University of Alberta discovered a correlation between finger length and tendencies towards aggressive behavior in men. The study found that the shorter the index finger is in relation to the ring finger the more aggressive a man is likely to be. Researchers suggest that a short index finger, long ring finger ratio means increased exposure to the male hormone testosterone in the womb, particularly in the first trimester of pregnancy, and a greater tendency towards aggression in adult life.
2. Long Ring Fingers Linked to Depression
A 1999 study carried out at England's University of Liverpool also explored the relationship between exposure to high levels of testosterone in the womb and finger length. However, this study explored the theory that long ring fingers in a man in relation to his overall height means that he is more likely to suffer from depression. The study found that in the early development of the fetus, high levels of testosterone increase the length of ring fingers while at the same time affecting the development of the baby's central nervous system and making the baby more prone to depression in later years.
3. Short Fingers Linked to Heart Attack
Several 2001 studies also carried out at the University of Liverpool concluded that boys with short fingers overall could be at greater risk of heart disease in later life than boys with longer fingers. The study found that boys with short fingers had low exposure to testosterone in the womb, a hormone which, when present at healthy levels, can protect the cardiovascular system from disease.
4. High Blood Pressure
The greater the number of whorls on your fingertips (or the denser your fingerprint is) the more likely to suffer from high systolic blood pressure according to a 1993 study carried out by researchers at The University of Southampton. The study found that fingertip whorls are a sign of impaired development in the womb and often a low birth weight and a precursor to hypertension in later life.
The study found that whorls on the fingers of the right hand were more symptomatic of a tendency towards high blood pressure than whorls on the fingers of the left hand.
5. Prostate Cancer
A 2010 study carried out by numerous researchers throughout England among them at the University of Nottingham and The University of Warwick, found that, in a study of over 1500 prostate cancer patients with longer index fingers showed a slightly reduced risk of developing prostate cancer. The study discovered that only 22.8% of the prostate cancer cases had longer index fingers. Researchers concluded that this was a result of increased exposure to testosterone in the womb.
6. Spatial and Mathematical Skills
However, exposure to high levels of testosterone in the womb is not all bad. A 2007 English study carried out at The University of Bath revealed that a long ring figure due to the hormone promotes the development of spatial and mathematical skills and strong performance in literary and numeracy tests in later life. The study was carried out on the Standardised Assessment Test (SAT) scores of 75 seven year old children.
7. Breast Cancer Linked to Long Index Fingers
Over-exposure in women to the female hormone, estrogen, in the womb can lead to increased chances of breast cancer in adult life and can be displayed in women by long index fingers in relation to their ring fingers according to a 2001 a study carried out at England's University of Liverpool.
8. Malignant Tumors Are Also Linked to Long Index Fingers
The same 2001 University of Liverpool study found that long index fingers in relation to short ring fingers can be a precursor to a malignant tumor at a relatively young age due to a similar over exposure to estrogen in the womb.
Women who have longer index fingers than ring fingers have almost double the chance of developing osteoarthritis of the knees says a 2008 English study developed by researchers at University of Nottingham. The study included 2000 arthritis sufferers across the United Kingdom. The reason for this association is unknown, the study concludes.
10. Sexual Orientation
A 2000 study undertaken by researchers at University of California, Berkeley, found that lesbian women tended to have the traditional 'masculine' combination of shorter index fingers and longer ring fingers. The study explored the theory that this was a result of high levels of the male sex hormone testosterone in early developmental stages in the womb.