Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Uncuts?

Once relegated to discussions of radical prostatectomy as a treatment consideration, the phrase “to cut or not cut” now applies to circumcision and prostate cancer.

Proponents of circumcision have long cited reduced infection risk, including STDs, as just one of the benefits of abandoning a man’s foreskin.  Some base their arguments on hygiene, aesthetics or just plain sexual satisfaction. Now that we are no longer brushing through jungles and the bush to hunt for food, and are instead adorned fashionably in our Calvin Klien and Jockey briefs, nature’s original protective function of the foreskin does seem a bit antiquated.

Researchers of prostate cancer increasingly suspect that undiagnosed and recurrent infections of the prostate—that are often asymptomatic–can cause inflammation in the prostate that initiates the early development of prostate cancer while young men are in their 20s and 30s. The foreskin, providing a warm and moist environment in which infectious organisms can collect and grow, may now actually be causing more harm in the form of increased cancer risk.

According to Monday’s New York Times, an article published by PCF-supported researcher, Dr. Janet Stanford, found evidence that circumcision may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Stanford, one of the study’s authors and a member of the public health sciences division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, conducted two studies. One study included over 1,700 men with prostate cancer, and the other, over 1,600 men without prostate cancer. Results suggest that the removal of the foreskin before a man’s first sexual experience may help protect against prostate disease and cancer.

However, these specific germs, or infections, have yet to be identified. Several past reports have indicated that unusual germs play a pivotal role in prostate cancer diagnosis, requiring further clinical studies and trials—specifically in young men. This public health concern may be an important element to further understand the role of circumcision in men, and ultimately, the role of infections resulting in cancer and other diseases.

I asked my boss Jonathan Simons, MD, president and CEO here at the Prostate Cancer Foundation to weigh in in the subject… ”We need research on hidden infections in young men that cause inflammation and may cause prostate cancer later in life,” said Dr. Simons. “The research conducted by Stanford and team strongly suggests that the microbiota, which is a fancy word for the hidden infections and germs that may be involved in causing prostate cancer, is not understood at the level it should be. Focusing on population research between men aged 20-30 years-old could help identify what germs are responsible for initiating early changes in the prostate that may cause prostate cancer.”

Perhaps parents should no longer worry about their sons growing up to be cowboys, but in the near-term consider the emerging data instead. There may indeed be much to learn from HPV as a cause of cervical cancer and, as with HPV, the potential for a similar vaccine for prostate cancer in the future.

POST SCRIPT:

Dear readers:

If your read through the comments to this entry, you will see that there were many passionate responses from this who thought I was advocating mass circumsicion. Indeed, I was not. Here is my response those those who were concerned:

Dear gentle people,

Let’s take a deep breath, put down our scalpels and refrain from removing ANY body parts at this time. It appears that my subtlety in this blog entry was interpreted by some as a call for mass beheading of the male anatomy. IT CERTAINLY WAS NOT. Such matters are a highly personal decision.

I apologize for bringing some of your passions to a proverbial head.

I agree with my good friend, Mike, at The New Prostate Cancer Info Link that when it comes to circumcision and prostate cancer risk, correlation is not cause and effect. (http://prostatecancerinfolink.net/2012/03/12/circumcision-and-prostate-cancer-risk-correlation-is-not-cause-and-effect/)

The foreskin is NOT the culprit here. What is of primary interest is the possible identification of a bio-organism that could indeed be responsible for undiagnosed infections that cause inflammation and initiate some prostate cancers. If that organism were identified, we should be able to develop a vaccine to render it innocuous to all males, cut or uncut.

If such a vaccine (currently available to prevent HPV infections and cervical cancer) were available, I would certainly consider it for my sons who are currently 14 and 18.

I hope this provides some much needed clarity. The purpose of such research is to ensure that one day “swords” and “helmets” (as we call them in my house) can live together with a lessened threat of prostate cancer for both.

Wishing you all good health and the power of choice.

Dan

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

19 Responses to “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Uncuts?”

  1. I read a summary of this study on the New Prostate Cancer Infolink (http://prostatecancerinfolink.net/2012/03/12/circumcision-and-prostate-cancer-risk-correlation-is-not-cause-and-effect/ ), and it struck me as showing an insignificant difference.

    From the sample of 1,754 with PrCa, 69% were circumcised; of the sample of 1,645 men without PrCa, 72% were circumcised.

    What ca we learn form this? About 70% of US men are circumcised!!

    • Rick:

      The takeaway from all of this is: “circumcision before first sexual intercourse was associated with a 15 percent lower risk for prostate cancer.”

      It’s confimation that more research is needed in this area to identify to possible biological culprits of undiagnosed and recurrent infections that may prompt the the initiation of PCa growth in young men. This could possibly lead to a vaccine such as we have for HPV to prevent cervical cancer.

      If such a vaccine were available, I would certainly vaccinate my sons to lower their risk.

  2. results “suggest”, results “may show”….

    this is ridiculous. why are researchers desperately searching for reasons to butcher people? the only explanation is that companies who manufacture circ equipment are paying them to.

    show us PROOF. not biased, paid-for guess work!

  3. Cutting off a perfectly functioning part of the body, in the hopes that it will help prevent certain types of cancer sounds preposterous to me. Why not cut your breasts off to prevent breast cancer? Why not cut the labia off to prevent ovarian and cervical cancer? We don’t do these things because people don’t waste their time touting false “facts” and biased studies, in order to promote a purely cosmetic procedure to be performed on an unconsentual minor.

  4. I so agree! We should also cut out little girls chest buds to prevent them of getting breast cancer. Or cut off toes just in case of in grown toe nails or athletes feet…. Same concept!

  5. QUICK!!! Let me make an appointment for a labia-ectomy!!!! That “warm and moist environment in which infectious organisms can collect and grow” will surely cause ovarian cancer!!! What was the good Lord (or that flying spaghetti monster in the sky) thinking when He plagued me with these pesky and deadly LABIA!!!!

  6. Circumcision: a cure in search of a disease. While we’re at it let’s just remove the breast buds of all children at birth too. Preventative surgery seems to be the way to go.

  7. I will make this brief as my intact son may wake any moment.
    There are only two countries in the world where the majority of men are circumcised: USA and Israel. The US has one of the highest rates of prostate cancer worldwide.

  8. Mama of an "uncut" Reply March 16, 2012 at 2:24 am

    Oh yes, that godawful foreskin, hack it off RIGHT AWAY! It *might* end up helping 1 person out of 100,000 circumcised, but let’s just chop up ALL infant penises because ONE of those 100,000 MIGHT benefit. Hey, while we’re at it, let’s remove breast buds on infant boys and girls, since breast cancer is more likely for both sexes. Oh and while we’re at it, let’s get rid of that pesky appendix, the gall bladder, and tonsils. Actually, ears get infected too. Let’s remove those. Can’t forget toenails, can’t have ingrown toenails. Throats get cancer, lungs get cancer, testicles get cancer, colons get cancer, the cervix gets cancer, and skin gets cancer. Let’s get rid of all those too.

    See how ridiculous this all sounds? Leave newborn babies alone. Removing healthy tissue that is definitely more than just a flap of skin is wrong. Only the person who owns the penis should ever get to decide if he wants his foreskin removed. You can always cut it off later (and you can even let people know when you need some pain medicine!) but you can never restore what was taken from you.

  9. Circumcision is genital mutilation. The foreskin is no more outdated than the labia, so if you’re against female genital cutting, you’re a hypocrite and sexist. Men deserve the same protection women have against genital cutting.

    Circumcision is a cure looking for a disease. Why don’t we do some studies to find out what removing the external genitalia of women may benefit.

  10. First of all, even the lead author and dr says,“These are observational data that don’t prove causality.” so let’s not jump to conclusions here.

    Second, even if I knew right now for a fact that cutting off part of my genitals reduced risk of infection based on bacteria and germs potentially shared during sex, therefore reducing my risk of cancer, I would never do it. Why? Because, I want to enjoy my body the way it was designed to be enjoyed – to its fullest potential. Why would I surgically remove parts of it to reduce my risks of contracting/developing an infection/cancer when I can have my partner wear a condom and reduce the risk right there, non-surgically? Then, when in a monogamous relationship, I would still be able to use and enjoy all of my genitals, not just the parts left over after cutting them apart for a “potential” 15% decreased risk of cancer. I wouldn’t want that for myself and I would never force that on a baby. There is no amount of research that is ever going to be sufficient enough to prove that surgically altering a child’s normal, healthy, functioning genitals is a wise or well thought out decision.

  11. I think men can get yeast infections if they are uncut…but how the hell did they link foreskin bacteria to prostate cancer?? this study reeks of “trying to find a disease for the cure.” i mean my god what if girls got mastectomies because breast cancer runs in families (it is far more predictable)? and shouldn’t a man be proud to have the erogenous tissue that could get infected instead of missing it? i’m so glad there are others who see how ridiculous this is.

  12. If the main contributor to increased prostate cancer risks is ‘hidden infections’ then there should be a concise health campaign on correct hygiene for men – NOT a mad rush to remove all of their foreskins. Why do humans always think that they know better than the way we are natually designed?! If this information makes a grown man decide he wants his foreskin removed then that is up to him. To use this as a reason to encourage parents to force this permanent mutilation of their newborns genitals is abhorent.

  13. First of all, the foreskin’s functions are not antiquated in the least…unless you consider full sexual satisfaction for both partners old news, or unless you can magic up the special touch nerves and specialized glands….or unless you like a glans that feels like a dry elbow vs a moist eyeball (both the eye and glans are meant to be mostly internal body parts).
    Secondly, the ‘infectious organisms’ idea is bunk. Yeah, I’m sure the penis,like any other surface of the body, can harbor harmul bacteria. However,most bacteria under the foreskin is good, helpful bacteria. Smegma is also a healthy part of the male (and female) genitalia. The vagina and labia are moist, warm areas which can also ‘trap harmful bacteria’, but you don’t see modern societies pushing to get rid of those ‘useless flaps of skin’ on baby girls….you would be quickly locked up for doing such a procedure!
    Some links to consider before believing yet another bit of circumcision hype if you’re trying to decide.

    http://www.drmomma.org/2011/08/intact-or-circumcised-significant.html

    http://www.drmomma.org/2012/03/circumcision-does-not-prevent-prostate.html

    http://www.drmomma.org/2010/01/are-you-fully-informed.html

  14. Dear gentle people,

    Let’s take a deep breath, put down our scalpels and refrain from removing ANY body parts at this time. It appears that my subtlety in this blog entry was interpreted by some as a call for mass beheading of the male anatomy. IT CERTAINLY WAS NOT. Such matters are a highly personal decision.

    I apologize for bringing some of your passions to a proverbial head.

    I agree with my good friend, Mike, at The New Prostate Cancer Info Link that when it somes to circumcision and prostate cancer risk, correlation is not cause and effect. (http://prostatecancerinfolink.net/2012/03/12/circumcision-and-prostate-cancer-risk-correlation-is-not-cause-and-effect/)

    The foreskin is NOT the culprit here. What is of primary interest is the possible identification of a bio-organism that could indeed be responsible for undiagnosed infections that cause inflammation and initiate some prostate cancers. If that organism were identified, we should be able to develop a vaccine to render it innocuous to all males, cut or uncut.

    If such a vaccine (currently available to prevent HPV infections and cervical cancer) were available, I would certainly consider it for my sons who are currently 14 and 18.

    I hope this provides some much needed clarity. The purpose of such research is to ensure that one day “swords” and “helmets” (as we call them in my house) can live together with a lessened threat of prostate cancer for both.

    Wishing you all good health and the power of choice.

    Dan

  15. So, Dan,
    I’m 61, have stage 3 pc, and was circumcised as infant. My father, uncircumcised, had low-grade pc, and died at 69 of other things. I don’t know the disease status of his father, who died at ripe old age of 96 of non-cancerous causes. Any thoughts, data, re. whether my dad’s correlational uncircumcised-pc circumstance has potential for hereditary predisposition in his offspring (me)? Any researchers ruminating down that multigenerational path yet?

  16. The Cure for Prostate Cancer will happen within the next 10 years:

    http://www.livemint.com/2011/08/01221757…

    However, the sexual detriments caused by male circumcision, for Both the man, and his female partner, can last a lifetime.

    As explained in the book, Sex As Nature Intended It, the foreskin has a great many sexual functions and benefits:

    http://xrl.us/SexAsNatureIntendedIt

    Also visit Pictures, Videos, & Text below (must be 18 years old):

    http://xrl.us/ChristianeNorthrupMD

    http://xrl.us/HowCircHarmsSex

    http://xrl.us/ForeskinSexualFunctions

    Circumcising infants or young boys today in hopes of preventing prostate cancer in men 40 – 50 years from now makes no sense.
    .