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Finger Length Ratio May Predict Osteoarthritis Risk

Update Date: Mar 05, 2014 02:19 PM EST

The ratio of your fingers may predict your risk of developing severe osteoarthritis, according to a new study.

Researchers found that the lower the ratio between a person's index finger and their ring finger, the higher their risk of developing severe osteoarthritis in their knees and needing a total knee replacement.

Previous studies suggest that hormonal factors contribute to the difference in prevalence of osteoarthritis between men and women. Research has shown consistent sex differences in the ratio of the lengths of the index and ring fingers, with men showing a lower average ratio than women.

Researchers said the goal of the latest study was to determine whether is a link between finger length ratio and risk of developing severe knee or hip osteoarthritis that requires total joint replacement.

The latest study involved 14,511 middle-aged and older participants in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study. Researchers said the rate of total knee replacement and total hip replacement between was determined by linking the cohort records to the Australian Orthopaedic Association National Joint Replacement Registry.

Researchers said that 580 participants had total knee replacements and 499 participants had total hip replacements for osteoarthritis during the follow up period.

The findings revealed that lower index to ring finger ratio was linked to higher risk of needing a total knee replacement. However, there was no significant evidence linking lower index to ring finger ratio to needing a total hip replacement.

Researchers said the findings held true when examining either the right or left hand, or the average. However, the risk of osteoarthritis in the knee was stronger with the right hand.

"Although there is some evidence from previous studies that sporting ability and achievement in sports and athletics are negatively related to 2D:4D, this might not reflect levels of regular physical activity in the general population. In our study, the measure of physical activity did not directly assess sporting activity, nor did the measure report past physical activity that may also be important in this regard," researcher Dr. Yuanyuan Wang said in a news release.

"Although our study's results may in part be explained by joint injuries associated with high-level physical activity in those with a lower 2D:4D and the greater susceptibility of knee OA in response to injury than hip OA, they may also reflect hormonal influences on the growth of bone, cartilage, and soft tissue, which warrants further investigation," Wang added.

The findings are published in the journal Rheumatology.

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