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Circumcision May Protect Men From HPV

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REUTERS: Men who are circumcised may be more protected against persistent infection with the virus that causes genital warts, a new study suggests.

The study, which followed 285 men ages 18 to 44, found that among those who became infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV), circumcised men were more likely to have their immune systems "clear" the virus by the end of the 18-month study.

When it came to the risk of acquiring the virus in the first place, the biggest risk factor was having a large number of lifetime sex partners, the researchers report in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

There are more than 100 strains of HPV, some of which cause genital warts. In most people, the immune system clears the infection fairly rapidly. However, persistent infection with certain HPV strains can eventually lead to cancer.

Persistent HPV infection is the primary cause of cervical cancer, but it can also lead to cancers of the anus and the penis in men.

Compared with women, little is known about men's risk factors for HPV infection -- or the factors that affect their ability to clear the virus, according to the principal researcher Dr. Anna R. Giuliano of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida, and her associates.

To investigate, they followed 285 men for about 18 months, testing for HPV every 6 months. Overall, 29 percent of the men became infected with the virus over 1 year; 19 percent acquired an HPV strain linked to cancer.

Men who said they'd had more than 16 sex partners had about three times the HPV risk of those with fewer sex partners. They were also nearly 10 times more likely to contract a potentially cancer-causing strain.

When it came to HPV clearance, circumcision appeared beneficial, the researchers found.

Circumcised men were three times more likely to clear any type of HPV infection by the end of the follow-up period and six times more likely to clear a cancer-linked HPV strain.

The reasons for these findings are not clear, according to Giuliano and her colleagues. It's possible, they suggest, that circumcised men are less likely to get skin abrasions during sex, which might mean that fewer HPV particles enter their bodies.

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10 comments so far | Post a comment now
Spookygirl February 23, 2009, 1:54 PM

I still fail to see the logic in cutting of a useful piece of my newborns body to protect him from the possible consequences of being promiscuous in the future?? I mean, honestly, even if it were 100% certain to protect my son, I still wouldn’t consider it. I’d rather spend my time and energy teaching my children the right way to live, and how to be responsible. And leave his perfect little body intact, with all the parts he was born with :)

Paul February 23, 2009, 3:24 PM

I’m sure removing the labia off of newborn girls might reduce a little their chances of getting HPV (which there is a vaccine for these days, btw). If you would not consent to have the labia removed from your newborn girl and you consent to have your son circumcised, you are a hypocrite.

John February 23, 2009, 5:04 PM

There are studies that show this both ways. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey looked at 8,849 sexually active men and women aged 18 to 59 from 1999 to 2004 and found that circumcised men were about twice as likely to get genital warts (Only physical sign of HPV infection).

The US is mostly circumcised and still HPV is the most common STD.. Must not work to well if it does protect..

Hugh7 February 23, 2009, 8:46 PM

The main result of this study is that circumcision does not protect men from acquiring HPV in the first place. Why is this not headlined? Because it does not support circumcision?

Only 12% of the 285 men (34 men) were not circumcised, so the statistical significance of any findings regarding circumcision is low. Only about 29% of the men were infected with HPV - circumcised or not - thats only about TEN of the non-circumcised men.

They only tested every six months, about the same as the median time it took HPV to clear, so it is quite preposterous to claim they had found anything worthwhile about the time of clearance of HPV in the small fraction of the small fraction of the total who were not circumcised and had HPV.

This really is junk science, and junk reporting of it.

Tom Tobin February 24, 2009, 9:24 AM

does anybody recall the creation of an HPV vaccine? why should anyone have 2/3 of their sexual responsiveness and feeling removed, when there is a vaccine to help prevent infection? I agree, the study is bogus. there is another one from New Zealand, which is much larger, and have a different outcome. why, since the 1870’s, has the medical community been working double overtime, to find something which circumcision cures? I realize it is a $250 million+ a year business in the US. what part of “first, do no harm”, are they not getting? damaging or removing the frenulum and inner foreskin, they might as well remove the head, because the frenulum and inner foreskin are much more sensitive. sick stuff, making kids bleed for the parents’ ego and false beliefs. 4 1/2 million years of human evolution is not a mistake. why do we never hear of hygiene problems caused by the female foreskin? it’s the same tissue.
why do we keep seeing the same illogical article posted over and over?

Lylle February 26, 2009, 1:52 PM

Circumcision is probe! go to and find why WHO, UNO, family health and other organizations support circumcision as a tool against STD’s.

Tom Tobin March 2, 2009, 5:10 PM

I wonder if those who are damaged, or killed from their circumcisions, would agree with the last comment.
Why is viagra so common in the circumcised US, but not in European countries? Why also is the HIV infection rate higher in the US, than it is in Europe?
A condom would be a more effective tool against any disease, costs less over the man’s lifetime, and does not require the removal of healthy body parts.

Owyepddg June 29, 2009, 3:04 AM

yHFgOM comment1 ,

Jody  March 10, 2010, 10:47 PM

Wow. deserves an award.

Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 2:38 PM

Good site! Good to read. I have a single observation to make about tee shirts.

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