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Circumcision Reduces Virus that Leads to Cervical Cancer

By HERWriter
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Circumcision is an age-old practice typically performed for religious beliefs. However, a recent study reported that circumcised men have less of a chance of spreading HPV (human papilloma virus) to their female partners. HPV has been found to be a primary cause of cervical cancer. As a result, those female partners have a lower risk of developing cervical cancer as compared to those women whose male partners are not circumcised.

HPV infections are a group of over 150 viruses, approximately 40 of which are sexually transmitted. Two types of the viruses, HPV-6 and HPV-11, cause genital warts; however the warts may take weeks to months to appear after exposure and in some people may never develop, though they have been infected with the virus. It has been found that HPV infections are the cause of virtually all cervical cancers. “It was estimated that, in 2010, about 12,000 women in the United States would be diagnosed with this type of cancer and more than 4,000 would die from it," according to the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Maria Wawer and other researchers from John Hopkins University in Baltimore performed two parallel studies in Uganda between the years of 2003 to 2006. They enrolled non-HIV males and non-HIV females who were divided into two groups. One group had circumcisions performed at the start of the study and the other (the control group) had circumcisions performed 24 months later. HPV infections were diagnosed using vaginal swabs. At the end of the two years, 27.8 percent of women whose steady partners had circumcisions developed HPV versus 38.7 percent of the women with non-circumcised partners, a 10 percent reduction.

Circumcision is thought to prevent the spread of HPV infections due to the finding that the foreskin of the penis is rich in immune cells. It has been found that HIV infections occur at a higher rate in non-circumcised males and it is believed that removal of this skin prevents the occurrence of other viral infections as well.

“Male circumcision has now been shown to decrease HIV, herpes simplex virus-2 and HPV infections,” according to Wawer’s team. They went on to point out that other sexually transmitted infections such as trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis also are decreased in women whose partners have been circumcised.

It is important to point out that circumcision is not an alternative for safe sex practices, and additionally, that studies have not been performed that support if the same protection exists in male to male contact.

Current medical thinking supports that circumcision does in fact have medical reasons for being performed and should be a consideration in males as more than just a religious practice.



Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles

Add a Comment14 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Did anybody notice that this same Wawer/Gray team reported in 2009 that circumcising Ugandan men made them 50% MORE likely to infect their partners with deadly HIV ?

January 26, 2011 - 6:30pm
EmpowHER Guest

New Study finds no association between male circumcision and lowered HIV rates.

(January 21, 2011)


January 26, 2011 - 5:46pm

That is an interesting assumption on your part. Actually, many are reluctant to have their daughters have the HPV vaccine because they are concerned about reports of side effects.
“The Centers for Disease Control reported in late August that while 44% of teenagers received the HPV vaccine in 2009, only 27% of them received all three doses of the shot. Unfortunately, there isn't evidence to support that getting only one shot effectively protects against cancer."

The vaccine is also available for parents to have given to their sons to protect their future girlfriends or wives but I don't have any stats on how many are getting this preventive vaccine.

Additionally, while the vaccine is an alternative, it must be given before a person is infected with HPV to be of any help since it cannot treat or stop HPV once it is already in the body.

January 26, 2011 - 5:18pm
EmpowHER Guest

The new HPV vaccine eliminates the HPV viruses that cause cervical cancer. You are just pushing circumcision because of your culture.

January 26, 2011 - 4:31pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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