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article imageStudy: Circumcision for prostate cancer prevention?

By Yukio Strachan     Mar 13, 2012 in Health
Circumcised men show a lower risk for developing prostate cancer –– the most common cancer diagnosed in men today –– a new study finds.
"Penile plunder"' and "The rape of the phallus" are just two of the many phrases used to debate one of the most controversial topics in medicine: the practice of circumcision in newborn males.
In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) determined that the risk of surgical complications, though small, nearly canceled out the benefits, reported. But five years ago, a team of experts convened by the World Health Organization and UNAIDS (the United Nations' HIV program) announced that circumcision should indeed "be part of a comprehensive HIV prevention package."
Now the results of a new study,published online Monday in the scientific journal Cancer, found that early circumcision, before first sexual intercourse, was linked to a 15% percent lower risk for both aggressive and less aggressive prostate cancer, adding weight to existing evidence for the relative health benefits of circumcision.
Many experts believe that some prostate cancers may be linked to sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
"Therefore, if we assume that STIs play a role in prostate cancer, and accept that circumcision can reduce the incidence of STIs, it is then plausible that circumcision may also reduce the risk of prostate cancer," the study authors wrote, Medpage Today reported.
So should all males be circumcised to prevent prostate cancer?
"I would not go out and advocate for widespread circumcision to prevent prostate cancer," said the lead author, Dr. Jonathan L. Wright, an affiliate investigator in public health sciences at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, reported Reuters Health.
Wright said his study, which included almost 3,400 men;1,754 had prostate cancer -- the largest and most comprehensive of its kind so far -- was focused on shedding light on cancer development, rather than prevention. "We see an association, but it doesn't prove causality."
Siobhan Sutcliffe, PhD, assistant professor in the division of public health sciences at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri agrees, "You can draw stronger conclusions from the results of a clinical trial than from a case–control study,"she told Medscape Medical News. "This will require many more studies."
Said Louis Kavoussi,MD, the chairman of urology at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Lake Success, N.Y.:
“There are good reasons to get circumcised, but prostate cancer prevention is not one of them,” Web MD reported.
More about Prostate cancer, Circumcision, Sexually transmitted diseases
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