Why Circumcision is a Biomedical Imperative for the 21(st) Century

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This important position paper provides the evidence that now overwhelmingly favors male circumcision in prevention of a wide array of diseases, many of which are fatal. These include HIV/AIDS, various cancers, physical problems, infections and sexual problems. The benefits exceed risks by over 100 to 1. Female sexual partners have even more to gain from having an uncircumcised male partner.

In the November issue of the highly-ranked journal BioEssays Brian Morris, a Professor in the School of Medical Sciences and Bosch Institute at The University of Sydney, Australia presents a powerful position statement with ramifications for all in society.

He claims that circumcision of males represents a surgical "vaccine" against a wide variety of infections, adverse medical conditions and potentially fatal diseases over the lifetime of males, and also protects their sexual partners. He makes clear that in experienced hands, this common, inexpensive procedure is very safe, can be pain-free and can be performed at any age.

The benefits vastly outweigh risks. The enormous public health benefits include protection from urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted HIV, HPV, syphilis and chancroid, penile and prostate cancer, phimosis, thrush, and inflammatory dermatoses. His calculations reveal that 1 in 3 uncircumcised males will, as a result of not being circumcised, suffer a medical condition over their lifetime that will require medical attention, and many will die from some of these.

Since most complications during circumcision are on average seen in only 1 in 500, and these are easily and immediately treated, the benefits outweigh the risks by over 100 to 1. In women circumcision of the male partner provides substantial (over 5-fold) protection from cervical cancer and chlamydia. The latter can result in pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and ectopic pregnancy, Circumcision has socio-sexual benefits and reduces sexual problems with age. It has no adverse effect on penile sensitivity, function, or sensation during sexual arousal.

He describes the evidence that reveals why most women prefer the circumcised penis for appearance, hygiene and sex. Given the convincing epidemiological evidence and biological support, he advocates routine circumcision and says that it should be highly recommended by all health professionals.

BioEssays 29:1147-1158, 2007. (c) 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Brian J. Morris, PhD DSc FAHA
Professor of Molecular Medical Sciences

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