nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Monday, July 26, 2010

Long Ring Finger Means High Risk of Prostate CA?

Oh, and by the way, it also means you have LOWER risk of heart disease.

I love the media (OC Register, July 26).  They come out with the dopiest news stories.  This one reports on a study done to examine the length of men's ring finger and  and testosterone levels.
"The study, which examined 366 men over the age of 40 at a hospital in South Korea, claimed that male babies who are exposed to a high level of the hormone testosterone in the womb can grow up to have an elongated ring finger on their right hands. Testosterone is thought by some doctors to be an influential factor in prostate cancer, just as estrogen is suspected to affect breast-cancer incidence."
Wait, I thought they were talking about finger length and cancer...

The overreach in this story is classic.  Yes, there is some issue of testosterone and the incidence of prostate cancer, but it's controversial and not clear how it works.  It could be some third, or fourth, or fifth intermediate factor that influences both testosterone and cancer that could be behind all the correlation results.

Say this to yourself fifty times, "Correlation is not causation."

I've been staring at my ring fingers now for 5 minutes and can't convince myself that either one of them is longer or shorter than the index finger.  What does this mean?  And what does it mean if one ring finger is shorter and one is longer?  I assume some people can have that.  Do they get prostate cancer on only one side of the body?

See how ridiculous this all is?

OH, and the real howler comes when the BBC tosses in the French study that dogs can sniff out a molecule in the urine of men with prostate cancer.  Pretty cool, huh?  Apparently the dogs had "correctly identified 63 of 66 samples from cancer-stricken men. The dog had to pick the positive sample out of a set of five."

Before you go track down Fido with your urine sample, it's only Belgian Malinois shepherds that can do this.  Sorry.

But maybe it had nothing to do with smell.  Maybe the dogs were just thinking, "This guy looks like hell."

Hilarious.  Great wake-up for a Monday morning.

Doc D

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