Circumcision Might Protect Against Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer risk may be lower among men who are circumcised

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) While the only definite established risk factors for prostate cancer are African ancestry, advancing age, and a family history of the disease, not being circumcised may also pose a threat.

Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men. One in seven men will get prostate cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.

Although many of the potential causes of prostate cancer may be unchangeable, a new study has found that circumcision may be one preventive factor that can be changed.

"Consider prostate cancer testing if you're 50 or older."

Marie-Élise Parent, PhD, and Andrea Spence, PhD, of the University of Quebec's INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier in Canada, led a team investigating the possible link between circumcision and the likelihood of getting prostate cancer.

Their Prostate Cancer and Environment Study (PROtEuS) analyzed data on 1,555 men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer in a Montréal hospital between 2005 and 2009, and 1,586 healthy control patients.

Overall, circumcised men compared to uncircumcised had a slightly lower chance of developing prostate cancer, but it was not a statistically significant difference. Among men circumcised when they were older than 35, however, the risk of having prostate cancer dropped by 45 percent.

For those circumcised as infants within their first year, the procedure cut the risk of developing prostate cancer by about 14 percent.

Black men in this study experienced the strongest protective effect from circumcision — chopping cancer risk by 60 percent.

"This is a particularly interesting finding, as black men have the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world and this has never been explained," said Dr. Parent in a press release. "This novel finding warrants further examination in future studies that have a larger number of black participants."

Some research has shown an association between sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and prostate cancer. Dr. Parent commented that circumcision may lower the chances of contracting and maintaining an STI.

“Childhood circumcision, specifically, before initiation of sexual activity, may be the most opportune time in terms of prostate cancer prevention, as it precedes potential exposure to STIs,” the authors noted.

This study was published at the end of May in BJU International.

This study was supported through grants from the Canadian Cancer Society, the Cancer Research Society, the Fonds de la recherche du Quebec – Santé (FRQS), FRQS-RRSE, the Ministere du Developpement economique, de l’Innovation et de l’Exportation du Quebec, and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

Review Date: 
May 29, 2014
Last Updated:
May 29, 2014