Adult circumcision could potentially halve risk of prostate cancer

Since 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended circumcision as a way to limit the spread of HIV. ©Steve Cukrov/

Since 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended circumcision as a way to limit the spread of HIV.
©Steve Cukrov/

(Relaxnews) – When performed on men over the age of 35, circumcision could reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer by nearly half, according to a Canadian study published in the British Journal of Urology International. The study’s authors emphasize that the effect was particularly significant among black men.

In addition to having strong cultural and religious significance, circumcision has been shown to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections. The removal of the foreskin is even recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS as a preventative measure to limit the risk of HIV transmission, particularly in Africa.

Now proponents of circumcision have yet another argument in their favor. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Montreal and by the INRS Armand Frappier Institute indicates that the operation could significantly reduce the risk of prostate cancer when performed on men over the age of 35.

Andrea Spense, working under research directors Marie-Elise Parent and Marie-Claude Rousseau, interviewed a sample population of 2,114 men, half of whom had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. All the men answered a questionnaire on various aspects of their lifestyle and medical history.

On the whole, the data showed that circumcised men were 11% less likely to develop prostate cancer. Men who were circumcised as infants were 14% less at risk than others. But for men circumcised over the age of 35, the risk dropped by no less than 45%.

The researchers point out that prostate cancer is rare among Jewish or Muslim men, the vast majority of whom are circumcised.

More surprising, however, were the findings related to the study’s 178 black men (78% of whom were of Haitian origin). The 30% of the black study participants who were circumcised were 60% less likely to have prostate cancer. The researchers noted that ethnic origin — along with age and family history — is a significant factor in determining an individual’s risk for prostate cancer, and that black men are generally more likely to develop the disease than those from other ethnic groups.

While further research need to be conducted to confirm the link between circumcision and reduced risk of prostate cancer, other recent studies seem to point to similar conclusions. One study carried out by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the results of which were published in Cancer in March 2012, indicated a 15% reduction in the risk of developing prostate cancer among circumcised men.


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