August 21, 2012

Study: Decline In Circumcision Leads To Increased Healthcare Costs

Michael Harper for - Your Universe Online

A new study has shown that fewer Americans are opting to have their baby boys circumcised and, if this trend continues, our Nation could end up tacking on an additional $4.4 billion to our avoidable health care costs. Once a routine operation, many parents are choosing to leave their sons “al fresco” as the debate between “to snip or not to snip” wages on.

"We find that each circumcision not performed will lead to $313 of increased expenditures over that lifetime," said senior investigator Dr. Aaron Tobian. Dr. Tobian works with the John Hopkins University, who conducted the study.

According to this new study, the added cost of leaving boys unsnipped stems from added cases and higher rates of sexually transmitted disease, in addition to an increase of cancers among uncircumcised men and their female partners. Dr. Tobian and his team believe this is the first study of its kind to attach a dollar amount to the relationship between uncircumcised men and the increase of multiple cancers, diseases and infections. These include HIV/AIDS, herpes, genital warts and cervical and penile cancers. Previous studies have focused on HIV, a costly disease which can be greatly reduced with circumcision. Bacteria and infections can live within the folds of the foreskin and, if this foreskin is removed, the chances of contracting one of these expensive sexually transmitted diseases is reduced.

According to Dr. Tobian, rates of circumcision in American boys is dropping, and nearing the rates of circumcision in European boys. In fact, according to their research, nearly 55% of American couples choose to have their sons circumcised. In the 1970s and 1980s, 79% of American boys had undergone the great snip, representing a drastic increase of fully assembled boys. In Europe, for example, only 10% of boys have undergone the surgery. Even fewer have had the procedure in Denmark, as only 1.6% of Danish boys have ever faced the tiny knife.

“Our economic evidence is backing up what our medical evidence has already shown to be perfectly clear,” said Dr. Tobian in a press statement.

“There are health benefits to infant male circumcision in guarding against illness and disease, and declining male circumcision rates come at a severe price, not just in human suffering, but in billions of health care dollars as well.”

According to this new research, the 20 year decline of male circumcision has already cost America close to $2 billion, money which could have been saved if parents simply opted for the circumcision, or taught their boys proper foreskin hygiene.

Some blame this decrease on the fact that many states have stopped covering the procedure in their Medicaid programs. Currently, 18 American states, including Colorado and South Carolina, do not provide funding for infant circumcision.

According to the Associated Press, South Carolina has said they will no longer pay for this procedure in an attempt to save money. In Colorado, some activists– known as “intactivists”– even tried to get a measure on the ballot which would have banned circumcision entirely, even in cases where it may have been medically necessary. The state governor stepped in and blocked this move, outlawing the ban. Dr. Tobian and his colleagues suggest simply performing the procedure is an easy, cost saving way to prevent the spread of STDs and other diseases.

"If there were a vaccine to prevent HIV acquisition, genital herpes, HPV, penile and cervical cancer, bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis, the medical community would rally behind this intervention as a game-changing tool to reduce sexually transmitted infections."

According to Dr. Tobian, circumcision is just as effective as a vaccine.