London: Believe it or not but the length of your fingers can tell you about your health complaints and determine risk of cancer and heart problems.

Scientists say that studying the length of your fingers, specifically your ring and index fingers, could help you determine your risk of more serious health complaints.

For instance, if your ring finger is longer than the index finger, you could be twice as likely to develop osteoarthritis of the knee, researchers from Nottingham University found when they measured the fingers of 2,000 people with the condition.

Similarly, another study led by Professor John Manning of Swansea University involving 200 students found out that those with a long ring finger suffered more colds and illnesses generally than those with longer index fingers.

There were also more reported cases of chickenpox and German measles among this group.

The scientists assert that one's finger length is determined in the womb as by how much one's exposed to the sex hormones oestrogen and testosterone. Male hormone testosterone encourages growth of the ring finger and oestrogen, female hormone, fuels growth of index finger.

Whether one's index or ring finger is longer is a sign of having more testosterone or oestrogen in the body. And, exposure to these hormones early in life seems to influence one's risk of disease, say the scientists.

"Between weeks eight and 12 in the womb, the levels of the sex hormones have a major impact on the development of the brain, heart and other organs," said Prof Manning, the author of 'The Finger Ratio', was quoted by a newspaper.

Prof Manning also said to find out which of your fingers is longer, measure your ring finger and index finger from the crease nearest the palm to the tip. The best hand to measure is your right hand, said Prof Manning.

(Agencies)