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

Chapter

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Obesity Testosterone Progesterone Androgen Infertility 

Abbreviations

2D:3D

Digit ratio between second to third finger

2D:4D

Digit ratio between second to third finger

2D:5D

Digit ratio between second to fifth finger

3D:4D

Digit ratio between third to fourth finger

3D:5D

Digit ratio between third to fifth finger

4D:5D

Digit ratio between fourth to fifth finger

CAH

Congenital adrenal cortical hyperplasia

CHD

Coronary heart disease

FOAD

Foetal origins of adult diseases

L

Left hand

R

Right hand

s.d.

Standard deviation

y

Years

Notes

Acknowledgements

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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