The University of Montreal and the INRS-Institut-Armand-Frappier have done research which shows that men who are circumcised when they are older than 35 had 45% less risk of developing prostate cancer than those who were uncircumcised.
The research undertaken by Andrea Spence, Marie-Élise Parent and Marie-Claude Rousseau involved interviewing 2114 men on the Island of Montreal. Half of these men had received a prostate cancer diagnosis between the period 2005 and 2009. The others were involved in the study as a control group. The study included questions about their medical history and lifestyle, if they were circumcised, and if so, at what age they were circumcised.
Benefits for Black Males
It was found that generally the circumcised participants were at 11% less risk of developing prostate cancer that the uncircumcised males. Marie-Élise Parent explained that the size in the reduction is not significant on a statistical basis, but is reflects similarity to what previous studies indicated.
However, it was found that babies who underwent circumcision prior to the age of one were 14% less likely to suffer the development of prostate cancer. It also showed that the removal of the foreskin while the boy was young offered protection against the more aggressive cancer forms, over time.
Prostate cancer is quite rare among Muslim and Jewish males as the majority of them have been circumcised. The main causes of this type of cancer are unknown, but scientists have identified three risk factors. These are a family history of the cancer, aging, and ethnicity related to Black African origins.
Of the 178 black males involved in the study, 78% were of Haitian origin. The study revealed that of this number, the risk of prostate cancer was about 1.4 times higher than that among the white males. Of the black males, 30% had been circumcised compared to the white males. The study indicated that the protected offered by circumcision was limited to the black males. Their risk of developing the cancer declined by 60%.
Researchers are unable to pinpoint the mechanism which prompts protection for men who have been circumcised. Many studies have indicated that the operation reduces the risks of infection by a sexually transmitted disease.
Parent explained that the inner section of the foreskin is made up of non-keratinised mucosal epithelium and is more like to be penetrated by microbes that could cause infection. The removal of the foreskin would therefore reduce this risk which may have a link to prostate cancer.
However, the stated protective effect of being circumcised, particularly as related to the Black population, has to be confirmed by additional studies since so few black males participated in the research.
Image credit: Elvert Barnes