Trying to decide whether to circumcise? Here’s a new study to consider. Research from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and recently published in the medical journal Cancer suggests that men who are circumcised have a slightly lower risk of developing prostate cancer. The researchers in the study stopped short of saying the removal of foreskin actually helps to prevent prostate cancer, but said more research is needed.
The study of 1600 men compared two groups, those who had been circumcised and those who had not. Controlling for factors like age, race and previous prostate cancer screening, those who had been circumcised had a 15 percent lower risk of the disease. Researchers hypothesize, among other possible explanations, that the foreskin can tear slightly during sexual activity, which may allow bacteria and viruses to enter the body and eventually cause cancer.
Circumcision continues to be a lightning-rod topic among parents. Opponents call the procedure, usually done in the first days of life, barbaric. Activists in San Francisco went so far as to propose a bill that would make it illegal, although it was struck down. However, studies have linked circumcision to decreased HPV and HIV transmission, as well as fewer urinary tract infections.