Your risk of ending up in the hospital with COVID-19 may literally be in your own hands. A new study finds finger length displays a link to a person’s sex hormone levels. What does this have to do with COVID-19? Researchers at Swansea University say a patient’s testosterone levels play a key role in how sick they get after infection.
Previous studies show that having a longer ring finger is a sign of higher testosterone levels in the womb. On the other hand, a longer index finger signals higher levels of estrogen. Typically, men have longer ring fingers and women have longer index fingers.
The new study examined this link between the sex hormones before birth and during puberty and the rate of COVID hospitalizations. Their findings reveal that people with “feminized” short little fingers in comparison to their other digits end up suffering more severe cases of COVID-19. Moreover, people who have larger size differences between the fingers on their left and right hands are at even greater risk.
Although most people only experience mild COVID symptoms, the elderly and men are more likely to have a severe case that requires urgent care. This has led scientists to wonder if a man’s testosterone levels play a role in disease severity.
One theory is that high testosterone levels cause COVID to worsen. However, another study links low levels in elderly men to a severe case of the virus.
To figure out which is right, the team examined the size ratios of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th digits on the hands of over 150 people. Fifty-four of these individuals were COVID-19 patients, while the others served as a healthy control group.
Specifically, the results show bigger differences between the 2D:4D and 3D:5D ratios on each person’s hands had a connection to a more severe case of COVID-19.
“Our findings suggest that COVID-19 severity is related to low testosterone and possibly high estrogen in both men and women,” says Professor John Manning in a university release.