New research finds infant circumcision may be a man’s first step toward prostate cancer prevention.
NEW YORK, March 13, 2012
It’s never too early to fight prostate cancer, according to new research linking male circumcision at birth and a reduced risk of prostate cancer. A recent study published in the Cancer journal shows circumcised men could be 15 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer as an adult. As New York’s leading robotic prostate cancer surgeon, Dr. David Samadi, welcomes this close-to-home news in the battle against prostate cancer.
These new findings in favor of an age-old tradition seem to support what our Jewish ancestors have espoused for years – circumcision is the secret to a blessed and healthy life. The covenant of circumcision takes place when a Jewish male infant is eight days old and is intended as a visible sign of a his covenant with God.
In the U.S. today, the procedure for removing a man’s foreskin is widespread for Jews and non-Jews, alike. Often pediatricians and urologists recommend circumcision for both cosmetic and health reasons. Many men prefer the physical characteristics of a circumcised penis and it has proven to offer significant hygiene benefits, particularly in reducing risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
The medical benefit of circumcision may now extend to the prostate. In the absence of the germ-trapping foreskin, the cleaner environment of a circumcised penis may reduce the risk of infection that can cause prostate inflammation that could ultimately lead to prostate cancer. So far, the findings are observational and do not show definitive cause and effect. The 15 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer was found inmen who were circumcised prior to their first sexual intercourse.
Dr. Samadi, Vice Chairman, Department of Urology, and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, explains these findings. “This is not to say that prostate cancer is a sexually transmitted disease; however, there is substantial evidence linking infection and certain cancers. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a prime example of one such cancer. Other cancers of the throat, cervix, and stomach have similar origins.”
Dr. Samadi reminds men of other lifelong wellness factors for decreasing risk of prostate cancer, while raising awareness about risk factors and the importance of early detection.
Exercise and weight
Obesity can increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer death by 33 percent. Maintaining a healthy weight through moderate exercise helps prevent prostate cancer and better positions you to fight the disease should you ever be diagnosed.
In addition to supporting a healthy weight, certain diet factors are believed to aid in prostate cancer prevention. Among them are foods rich in antioxidants like tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, and green tea.
Annual PSA test
A recent European study found a 38 percent reduction in prostate cancer death through routine PSA blood screening. Dr. Samadi encourages all men to discuss risk factors with their doctor and determine the right age to begin annual PSA level monitoring, no later than age 50. A qualified physician should monitor a man’s PSA velocity each year, watching for any spikes indicating the need for further testing.
Prostate cancer risk factors
Men with an immediate relative with prostate cancer are at double the risk. African American men have a 60 percent increased risk of developing prostate cancer than Caucasian men. Dr. Samadi urges men in these high-risk groups begin annual PSA exams at age 45 or earlier.
“We cannot be passive about prostate cancer,” Dr. Samadi stresses, “many things can be done to better position men to avoid and fight the disease. Patient wellness, widespread education and testing, and the support of an experience prostate cancer physician go a long way.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes some health benefits associated with circumcision, but does not currently recommend circumcision as routine in newborns. While further research is needed to isolate the direct correlation between circumcision, prostate health, and prostate cancer risk, it appears that the Old Testament may be joining forces with modern medicine in the fight against prostate cancer. “We’ll take all the help we can get,” enthused Dr. Samadi.