Correlations Between Digit Ratio and Foetal Origins of Adult Diseases in a Chinese Population: A Focus on Coronary Heart Disease and Breast Cancer

  • Huo Zhenghao
  • Lu Hong
  • Dang Jie
  • Francis L. Martin


Epidemiological studies suggest that impaired foetal growth can promote an adaptive adjustment of metabolism and the morphological development of foetal organs. This may be a significant aetiological factor in adult diseases including coronary heart disease (CHD) or breast cancer; consequently, these modulating factors are defined as foetal origins of adult diseases (FOAD). Digit ratio is determined during foetal life and may be a marker reflecting the development of foetal growth. In order to investigate the relationship between the digit ratio and CHD or breast cancer, we used anthropometric methods to measure the digit length of both hands for every study participant. Digit ratios were scored and compared between right and left hands, for CHD patients (n = 152 cases), breast cancer patients (n = 128 cases) and controls (CHD control, n = 152 cases; breast cancer control, n = 128 cases) respectively; all participants were residents of Yinchuan, Ningxia, China. We observed the following trend 2D:3D < 2D:4D < 3D:4D < 2D:5D < 4D:D < 3D:5D in both the control and the two patient cohorts. However, the digit ratio scores for both CHD and breast cancer groups exhibited higher mean values compared to the control cohort; this was especially the case for 2D:4D. Both CHD and breast cancer cohorts exhibited higher proportions of 2D>4D. These findings suggest that digit ratio, especially 2D:4D, has the potential to be an important and early diagnostic marker for future risk of developing CHD or breast cancer.


Breast Cancer Coronary Heart Disease Coronary Heart Disease Patient Foetal Period Digit Ratio 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Digit ratio between second to third finger


Digit ratio between second to third finger


Digit ratio between second to fifth finger


Digit ratio between third to fourth finger


Digit ratio between third to fifth finger


Digit ratio between fourth to fifth finger


Congenital adrenal cortical hyperplasia


Coronary heart disease


Foetal origins of adult diseases


Left hand


Right hand


Standard deviation





Our research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of The People’s Republic of China (Grant No. 30260045 and Grant No. 30960154).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Genetics and Cell BiologyNingxia Medical UniversityYinchuanP.R. China
  2. 2.Centre for Biophotonics, Lancaster Environment CentreLancaster UniversityLancasterUK

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