March 15, 2012

Circumcision May Help Protect Against Prostate Cancer

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Infections are known to cause cancer, and in males, sexually transmitted infections may contribute to the development of prostate cancer. Now, a new analysis has found that circumcision before a male's first sexual intercourse may help protect against the deadly disease.

Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found certain sexually transmitted infections can be prevented by circumcision. Certain infections can lead to prostate cancer by causing chronic inflammation that creates a hospitable environment for cancer cells.

They analyzed information from 3,399 men (1,754 with prostate cancer and 1,645 without). Men who had been circumcised before their first sexual intercourse were 15 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer than uncircumcised men. This reduced risk applied for both less aggressive and more aggressive cancers. (Specifically, men circumcised before their first sexual intercourse had a 12 percent reduced risk for developing less aggressive prostate cancer and an 18 percent reduced risk for developing more aggressive prostate cancer.)

They found 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.

"Although observational only, these data suggest a biologically plausible mechanism through which circumcision may decrease the risk of prostate cancer. Future research of this relationship is warranted," lead author Jonathan L. Wright, M.D., an affiliate investigator in the Hutchinson Center's Public Health Sciences Division, was quoted saying.

Source: Cancer, March 2012