Circumcised males have 10-fold fewer urinary tract infections. (Most recently shown in "Neonatal circumcision: an end to the controversy?," Southern Medical Journal, February 1996 -- but similar results have been reported from many studies since 1982). Up to 3% of uncircumcised boys will require hospitalization for pyelonephritis (a kidney infection). In the first months of life, kidney infections can easily spread to systemic infections and even meningitis. Pyelonephritis in the first years of life can lead to renal scarring that may progress to end-stage kidney disease in young adulthood. It was this data that most influenced the AAP to revise its stance.
A lower rate of syphilis, genital herpes, genital warts, and AIDS in circumcised men has been reported in a number of studies. A number of studies also report a lower rate of transmission of HIV to the partners of circumcised men, independent of other factors. These studies are all retrospective -- counting events that have already happened -- and thus may not adequately take into account other variables. The most recent task force on circumcision of the AAP has found these studies to be inconclusive.
Males circumcised in the newborn period almost never develop cancer of the penis. Kochen and McCurdy (American Journal of Diseases of Children, 134:484, 1980) estimate the risk of penile cancer as 1 in 600 uncircumcised males, of which 25% will die of the disease. The rest will have significant consequences.
Cancer of the cervix has been reported to be less common in the partners of circumcised men. Cervical cancer is much less common in Jewish and Muslim women than in cultures where circumcision is not common. Also, human papilloma virus (HPV) types 16 and 18 are the most common viruses on the cervixes of women with cervical cancer. HPV 16 and 18 are certainly more common on uncircumcised than circumcised males. All of this evidence, however, is merely circumstantial, and should still be considered inconclusive.
Circumcision usually prevents phimosis -- the inability to retract the foreskin by the appropriate age (usually school-age).
When the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis is first successfully retracted, it sometimes gets stuck. The head of the penis then begins to swell, which often requires an urgent circumcision. Newborn circumcision prevents this uncomfortable emergency, called paraphimosis.
Circumcision reduces the incidence of balanoposthitis -- infection or inflammation of the skin of the penis due to trauma or poor hygiene.
Effective personal hygiene is easier with a circumcised penis.
Many boys not circumcised at birth will require the procedure later, at greater cost and greater risk. Fergusson, et al. (Pediatrics 81:537, 1984) found that 18% of uncircumcised boys would require circumcision by 8 years of age. This number seems high to me. I am sure it could be reduced by not attempting to retract the foreskin too early, and by effective hygiene -- although this is easier said than done.
You might check out www.cirp.org, they seem to have tons of reference links.
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