These are the bizarre clues you could be at an increased risk of getting prostate cancer - and it’s bad news if you’re tall, going bald and have a high sex drive.
The disease is now the most common cancer among men in Britain - with 47,000 new diagnoses each year.
According to Cancer Research UK, there’s an encouraging 84 per cent survival rate, with an array of treatments available.
Experts say it’s vital men are aware of the early warning signs of the condition - such as difficulty urinating or more frequent urges to go to the loo in the night.
But equally important could be knowing if you’re already at an elevated risk of getting prostate cancer in the first place.
Scientific studies have revealed hidden indicators that some men could be more susceptible than others.
They include oddities such as finger length, the gender of your children, and even your height.
Meanwhile leading oncologist Dr Jiri Kubes says all men - no matter the perceived risk - need to keep a close eye on their prostate - a 3cm long muscular gland located just below the bladder.
Dr Kubes, medical director at the Proton Therapy Center in Prague, Czech Republic, and who treats scores of British patients each year, added: “These risk factors may appear unusual but the message is clear - prostate cancer is now the most common cancer among UK men.
“Males over the age of 50 should be keeping a close eye on the health of their prostate and for those with a family history of the disease, this should start even earlier.
“Black men are more at risk of prostate cancer with around one in four expected to get the disease at some point in their lives.
“If caught early enough, the prognosis is generally good. Anyone concerned about their level of risk should speak to their GP.”
The gender of your children:
The results of a study of 39,000 people by Israeli researchers concluded that men who only father daughters were more at risk compared with men who only father boys. It is also a very pronounced risk – they were 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, with those who fathered only sons having a reduced risk. Experts believe the issue could be chromosomal. Some men could be predisposed to having daughters because of certain unique characteristics on their Y chromosome, and it’s this which might also enhance their risk for developing prostate cancer.
A 2008 Bristol University study analysed almost 10,000 men, with or without prostate cancer. And they discovered the risk of developing the disease increased by six per cent for for every 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) in height a man is over the shortest group of men in the study - around 5ft 6 inches. That means a man who is one foot taller than the shortest person in the study would have a 19 per cent increased risk of developing the disease. Again they believe hormone levels may be key.
Research into 669 men by the European Society for Medical Oncology in 2011 found those who started thinning in their late teens were twice as likely to develop prostate cancer as they aged. While the exact cause remains a mystery, it is thought it may be related to male hormones known as androgens, which include the well-known testosterone. These are understood to inhibit hair growth while at the same time creating abnormal expansion of prostate cells. The good news is that early baldness was not associated with an earlier onset of prostate cancer or with more aggressive cancer.
A controversial study published in the British Journal of Cancer in 2011 found men with index fingers longer than their ring fingers were a third less likely to have prostate cancer. The Nottingham University-led study involved 5,000 men, some of whom already had the disease.
It led scientists to speculate that the more testosterone a baby is exposed to in their mother’s tummy, the shorter their index finger will be and the greater the risk of cell failure in the future.
A lazy lifestyle:
Experts have long warned that being active can help stave off illness, but they also fear a super sedentary lifestyle may hit the prostate. This is thought to be due to the spiking of blood levels of certain proteins linked to prostate cancer, caused by an activity level drop. One study group’s physical activity levels showed those who lazed for an extra hour increased their chances of having elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, a hormone in the blood which can indicate the presence of prostate cancer, by 16 per cent.
Research by US charity Prostate Cancer Foundation has revealed how the disease is more prevalent in certain global locations. North-western Europe, North America, the Caribbean and Australia have high incidences, while Africa, south and central America, and Asia, have relatively fewer. Scientists think this could be due to better health screening in developed countries. Meanwhile lower levels of sunlight caused by longer winters could also be a factor - with sunlight giving the important vitamin D to the body.
Being sexually active at a young age:
Being sexually active in younger years may also be a contributory factor, a Nottingham University study found. Results of research of 840 men confirmed those more prone to the disease masturbated more and were more sexually active in their twenties and thirties. The good news for men who did likewise after hitting 50 was that they had a lower risk for prostate cancer. Researchers say more research is necessary, but speculate a hormonal link is likely.
A previous cancer:
Experts believe a history of certain cancer types can up the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Though unsure why, they say cancer of the kidney, bladder, lung and thyroid, as well as melanoma skin cancer, can all make men more susceptible.