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Adult Circumcision Cuts Prostate Cancer Risk More

Update Date: Apr 07, 2014 06:52 PM EDT

Getting circumcised as an adult may lower the risk of prostate cancer, according to a new study.

Scientists at the University of Montreal and the INRS-Institut-Armand-Frappier found that men circumcised after the age of 35 were 45 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer compared to uncircumcised men.

The latest study involved 2,114 men living on the Island of Montreal. Researchers said that half of them had been diagnosed with prostate cancer between 2005 and 2009, and the other half in the control group had not been diagnosed

Overall, participants who were circumcised were 11 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer compared to those who weren't. Researchers noted that this reduction is not statistically significant.

"This proportion reflects what has been shown in other studies," researcher Marie-Élise Parent explained in a university release.

However, babies who were circumcised before the age of one were 14 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer. What's more, circumcision at a young age provides protection against the most aggressive forms of cancer. Previous studies also revealed that prostate cancer is rare amongst Jewish or Muslim men as the majority of them are circumcised. While the specific causes of prostate cancer remains unknown. Researchers have identified three risk factors that increase the risk of this type of cancer: aging, family history of this cancer and Black African ethnic origins.

Researchers explained that 178 Blacks were involved in the study, and 78 percent of them were of Haitian origin. Researchers found that people in this group were 1.4 times more likely to develop prostate cancer compared to Whites.

Researchers said that 30 percent of Black men were circumcised compared to 40 percent of the White men. Surprisingly, the study revealed that the protective effect of circumcision was limited to Black men, whose risk of developing prostate cancer was lowered by 60 percent.

While the exact mechanism of how circumcision lowers prostate cancer risk is unknown, previous studies reveal that removing the foreskin cuts the risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

"Unlike the skin that covers our bodies, the inner surface of the foreskin is composed of mostly non-keratinized mucosal epithelium, which is more easily penetrated by microbes that cause infections," Parent explained.

Researchers believe that removing the foreskin could therefore lower the risk of infections linked to prostate cancer. 

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