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Past studies have found that circumcision can reduce chances of contracting HIV and herpes, apart from reducing chances of contracting HPV infection by the female partners. It seems that circumcision also lowers the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Circumcision found to be associated with a Reduced Risk of developing Prostate Cancer

Many studies done in the past have shown that infectious pathogens may be playing a role in the development of prostate cancer. This has been found to be particularly true in case of sexually transmitted diseases which have often been considered to be a factor leading to prostate cancer. It is also a known fact that circumcision before the first sexual intercourse is associated with a reduced chance of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Therefore, it had been hypothesized that circumcision may be effective in reducing the risk of prostate cancer.

In order to test this hypothesis, researchers from the Hutchinson Center's Public Health Sciences Division, led by Dr. Jonathan Wright examined 3,399 men. 1,754 of these men had prostate cancer whereas 1,645 of them did not have the disease. The men were interviewed about the history of circumcision, the age at which circumcision was performed, the age at which they had their first sexual intercourse, and history of developing any sexually transmitted disease.

Based on the information collected from the participants of the study, the researchers tried to find an association between circumcision and risk of developing prostate cancer. They noted that men who had been circumcised before their first sexual intercourse had a 15% reduced chance of developing prostate cancer compared to men who had not been circumcised. This held true for both aggressive and non-aggressive forms of prostate cancers. While the chances of non-aggressive cancer were down by 12%, chances of developing aggressive form of prostate cancer were less by 18%. The results of the study clearly show that circumcision is associated with a reduced risk of developing prostate cancer.

Risk of developing Prostate Cancer is lowered following Circumcision because of reduced chances of Infection

The researchers have opined that the risk of developing prostate cancer is lowered following circumcision because of reduced chances of infection and inflammation. Circumcision leads to the removal of the foreskin. The moist area under the foreskin is often the breeding ground of the infectious pathogens. Moreover, circumcision thickens the inner foreskin which is otherwise prone to minor injuries during the time of sexual intercourse. It is through these injuries that infectious pathogens gain an entry into the bloodstream of the host.

According to the researchers, cancer is caused when infectious pathogens get incorporated into the DNA of the host cells leading to mutations. Another line of thought is that infectious agents breeding in the moist area under the foreskin produce chronic inflammation of the region. These inflammatory changes may provide an ideal environment for the development of cancer cells.

Studies done in the past have shown that circumcision reduces the chances of contracting HIV which may lead to AIDS. Similarly, the possibility of getting infected with a specific herpes virus is also found to be reduced following circumcision. Studies have also shown that female sexual partners of circumcised men have lesser chances of contracting HPV infection, a precursor of cervical cancer. Therefore, it appears logical that circumcision offers some degree of protection against prostate cancer.

However, the researchers have cautioned that their study only find an association between circumcision and prostate cancer, it does not prove any causality. Therefore, it does not advocate that all men should go for a circumcision.

  • “Circumcision tied to lower prostate cancer risk”, by Frederik Joelving. Published in the March 12, 2012 issue of Reuters Health, accessed on March 22, 2012. Retrieved from
  • “Circumcision and the risk of prostate cancer”, by Jonathan L. Wright et al. Published online March 12, 2012 of the journal Cancer, accessed on March 22, 2012. Retrieved from
  • Photo courtesy of barkbud on Flickr: