Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer for men in the developed world with more than 240’000 cases diagnosed in the United States annually. Many men have the cancer without even knowing it, and die from unrelated causes before the cancer has had a chance to metastasize.
Because of the prevalence of this form of cancer, a great deal of funding is going towards finding the various risk factors and new forms of treatment.
One new research paper from Canadian scientists has uncovered a potential link between circumcision and prostate cancer risk. The link is suspected to be related to the lower rates of sexually transmitted disease amongst men who have been circumcised.
The research found that within a sample group of 3000 men, those circumcised as infants were 14 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer, and men circumcised as adults 45 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer.
The research was published in the British urology journal BJU International. Researchers have known for many years that men who have been circumcised have a lower risk of prostate cancer, but are now digging deeper to understand why.
The research participants were between the ages of 40 and 75, with approximately 50% having been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The men were asked in-depth questions about their health, lifestyle, family history of cancer and work history.
Interestingly, the circumcision and prostate cancer link may be stronger in men of a certain racial group. Black men who were circumcised were 60% less likely to have prostate cancer compared to black men who had not been circumcised. However the small number of black men in the study may have skewed the results.
The link is of growing concern because the circumcision rate has been declining in the United States in recent years, dropping by about 20 percent in the last few decades. Researchers suggest this may be due to the procedure not always being covered by insurance or medicaid.
However while the findings warrant more investigation, the format for the study relies upon the honesty of the participants. When it comes to revealing the details of their sexual history and sexually transmitted diseases, some men aren’t always completely honest. Researchers don’t suggest parents should be more or less inclined to circumcise based upon this study.