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Medical researchers recommend male circumcision


2 March 2012

Penile cancer, HIV, HPV, syphilis and kidney inflammation are among a number of medical conditions whose risk can be lowered by the practice of infant male circumcision, says a study led by the University of Sydney.

The review of current international evidence for the benefits and risks of infant male circumcision is published today in the Open Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"This is the world's first evidence-based policy on infant circumcision and its authors include five Fellows of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians," lead author, Professor Brian Morris, from Sydney Medical School at the University, said.

"The evidence in favour of infant circumcision is now so strong that advocating this simple, inexpensive procedure for baby boys is about as effective and safe as childhood vaccination".

The study points out that many common childhood conditions, including kidney damage, will become rare if baby boys are circumcised in the first weeks of life.

Circumcision was found to protect men, and their sexual partners, from several common sexually transmitted infections, as well as cancers of the penis and cervix.

"The scientific evidence shows no adverse effects on sexual function, sensitivity, satisfaction or sensation - if anything the opposite," said Professor Morris.

The policy suggests that for maximum benefits, safety, convenience and cost savings, circumcision should be performed in infancy and with local anaesthesia. It claims that the risk-benefit analysis shows benefits outweigh minor risks by a factor of over 100 to 1.

"It is now up to state governments to ensure that bans on elective infant male circumcision in public hospitals are lifted without delay. And it is essential that the federal government revises the Medicare rebate so that this procedure is affordable for low-income families.

"The costs saved will be enormous, as this policy statement shows that half of uncircumcised males will suffer an adverse medical condition over their lifetime, and many will die as a result of diseases preventable by circumcision," Professor Morris said.

The 12 authors of the published study include the University's Professor Stephen Leeder, Director, Menzies Centre for Health Policy; Associate Professor Leslie Schrieber, Sydney Medical School; and Professor Adrian Mindel, Director of the Sexually Transmitted Infections Research Centre.


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Media enquiries: Verity Leatherdale, 02 9351 4312, 0403 067 342, verity.leatherdale@sydney.edu.au