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Circumcision Protects Against Prostate Cancer
Male circumcisions have been done for more than a century and the practice remains controversial today. In fact, in-hospital circumcision rates have steadily declined in the United States even as its benefits in reducing risk for disease grows. Even abroad, circumcision is a mainstay among African nations (mostly as a passage to manhood vs. at birth) and many Swedish doctors refuse circumcision altogether.
But what if circumcision before a male’s first sexual intercourse could help protect against prostate cancer? U.S. researchers suggest it can.
Dr. Jonathan L. Wright, an affiliate investigator in the Hutchinson Center’s Public Health Sciences Division, said circumcision could hinder infection and inflammation that may lead to this malignancy. According to news reports, Wright and colleagues analyzed data from 3,399 men — 1,754 with prostate cancer and 1,645 without.
The study, published online, found men who had been circumcised before their first sexual intercourse were 15% less likely than uncircumcised men to develop prostate cancer. Men circumcised before their first sexual intercourse had a 12% reduced risk for developing less aggressive prostate cancer and an 18% reduced risk for developing more aggressive prostate cancer, the study said. These are statistically significant but will it overshadow parental concerns, religious beliefs, or even mistrust of the medical system to expose young men to a procedure still some find “suspect?”
Sexually transmitted infections may lead to prostate cancer by causing chronic inflammation that creates a hospitable environment for cancer cells, but other mechanisms may also be involved, Wright said. Circumcision may protect against sexually transmitted infections, and therefore prostate cancer, by toughening the inner foreskin and by getting rid of the moist space under the foreskin that may help pathogens survive per the study. As with any medical procedure, talk to your doctor, and if need be, get a second or third opinion. Get the facts.