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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Is circumcision necessary?

The American Academy of Pediatrics previously held that "...the procedure has potential medical benefits and advantages, as well as inherent disadvantages and risks.  In other words, circumcision may or may not provide any benefits or advantages, but it does have built-in disadvantages and risks.  It is not surprising, therefore, that the AAP had assigned a Task Force to re-examine Routine Infant Circumcision.  On March 1, 1999, after a two year investigation, it was concluded that the "potential medical benefits" of infant circumcision aren't significant enough and therefore, the AAP does not recommend it as a routine procedure.

Whether a man is circumcised or not, penile cancer can be avoided by practicing good hygiene. As pointed out earlier, good hygiene is easy to achieve.
The foreskin does not cause penile cancer. In a letter to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society stated that it “does not consider routine circumicision to be a valid or effective measure to prevent [penile or cervical] cancers. ...Penile cancer rates in countries which do not practice circumcision are lower than those found in the U.S.” Penile cancer occurs at the rate of 1 in 100,000 males in the U.S. circumcised or not.

Risk factors for penile and cervical cancer are the presence of the human papilloma virus and smoking. The HPV virus is found in both circumcised and uncircumcised men. “Portraying routine circumcision as an effective means of prevention distracts the public from the task of avoiding the behaviors proven to contribute to penile and cervical cancer: especially cigarette smoking and unprotected sexual relations with multiple partners. Perpetuating the mistaken belief that circumcision prevents cancer is inappropriate.”
"It has been suggested that circumcision prevents cancer of the penis and of the uterine cervix. Both kinds of cancer are associated with genital infection with specific types of human papillamoviruses. It has been alleged that cancer of the penis is virtually unknown among men circumcised in infancy. However penile carcinomas have in fact been reported among circumcised men. The incidence of cancer of the penis in the United States, where most men have been circumcised at birth, is reported to be between 0 and 2.1 per 100,000, representing less than 1 percent of all cancers in men. This incidence of penile cancer is similar to the rates in Denmark (1.1 per 100,0000 and Japan (0.3 per 100,0000 where neonatal circumcision is not routinely performed. One study, reporting contradictory data, claimed that the lifetime risk in American men is 1 in 600. This estimate was extrapolated from a study of the incidence of male circumcision and depended on three incorrect assumptions: that all penile carcinomas occur in men who are not circumcised at birth, that the circumcision rate between 1890 and 1905 was the same as that in 1959, and that men presenting at a cancer detection center in Los Angeles, 40 percent of whom were classified as professionals or managers, were representative of the U.S. male population. Thus the lifetime risk of cancer reported in this study is probably incorrect. The evidence that penile cancer has a viral cause and the disease's similar incidence rates in countries with very different rates of circumcision cast doubt on the proposition that circumcision is the most effective way to prevent cancer of the penis." THE QUESTION OF ROUTINE NEONATAL CIRCUMCISION, by Ronald L. Poland, M. D., THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, Vol. 322, No. 18 (May 3, 1990), Pages 1312-1315. To read this entire article, click here.

The Maden study found that 37% of penile cancer cases occurred in circumcised men. Penile cancer is so rare among the intact, few people realize that more deaths result from the circumcision procedure itself than from penile cancer. It is possible that the general public has confused penile cancer with prostate cancer which is much more common.


“Research suggesting a pattern in the circumcision status of partners of women with cervical cancer is methodologically flawed, outdated and has not been taken seriously in the medical community for decades.” [See Block Quote above.] “The strongest predisposing factors in cervical cancer are a history of intercourse at an early age and multiple sex partners.” Penile warts which are caused by a virus have been linked to cervical cancer. Studies have been conducted to compare the frequency of cervical cancer in countries where most men are circumcised to countries where most men are intact. The results showed no significant difference. Many case/control records in the U.S. demonstrated no difference in cervical cancer incidence in women with intact or circumcised partners.


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