Circumcision may reduce prostate cancer risk

March 28, 2012

Circumcision before a male's first sexual intercourse may help protect against prostate cancer, according to a recent study.

Circumcision before a male’s first sexual intercourse may help protect against prostate cancer, according to a recent study.

The study’s results also suggest that circumcision can hinder infection and inflammation.

Lead author Jonathan Wright, MD, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s Public Health Sciences Division, and colleagues, tested the protective effect of circumcision against the development of some cases of prostate cancer.

For the study, which was published online in Cancer (March 12, 2012), the authors analyzed information from nearly 3,3400 men (1,754 with prostate cancer and 1,645 without). Men who had been circumcised before their first sexual intercourse were 15% less likely to develop prostate cancer than uncircumcised men.

The reduced cancer risk applied for both less and more aggressive forms of the disease. Specifically, men circumcised before their first sexual intercourse had a 12% reduced risk for developing less aggressive prostate cancer and an 18% reduced risk for developing more aggressive prostate cancer.

“These data are in line with an infectious/inflammatory pathway which may be involved in the risk of prostate cancer in some men,” Dr. Wright said. “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.”

In an interview with Medscape Medical News, Siobhan Sutcliffe, PhD, who was not involved with the study, called the findings "interesting" but said, “It is too early to make recommendations about circumcision for prostate cancer prevention.

"You can draw stronger conclusions from the results of a clinical trial than from a case-control study," said Dr. Sutcliffe, of Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis. "This will require many more studies."

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