It’s one of those weird anatomical-arboreal coincidences: The human prostate is about the size and shape of a walnut. But what if it really were a walnut? For one thing, you’d never get prostate cancer. Which sounds great, until you realize that you could get “walnut curculio” or “walnut-husk maggot” instead. Better to deal with the devil you know.

And what a devil it is. Last year, 221,000 men (one of them Robert De Niro) were diagnosed with prostate cancer; that’s more than lung, colon, and brain cancers combined. And nearly 29,000 men died of it last year. These are grim statistics, but there’s reason to be optimistic.

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