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Apr 07, 2014 05:48 AM EDT

Circumcision Over 35 Years Protects Men from Prostate Cancer, Study

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A latest study by University of Montreal and the INRS-Institut-Armand-Frappier found that men, who underwent circumcision beyond the age of 35, have a 45 percent lower risk of prostate cancer later in life when compared to their uncircumcised counterparts.

Researchers said that the effect is particularly prominent among black men. The risk of developing prostate cancer was lowered by 60 percent in their population.

For the study, the researchers surveyed 2114 men from the Island of Montreal with regards to their lifestyle and medical history. The participants were also asked if they were circumcised. If yes, at what age the operation was performed. Among the participants, half of the men were diagnosed with prostate cancer between 2005 and 2009, while the remaining took part in the study as the control group.

In general, the participants, who were circumcised, were 11 percent less prone to develop prostate cancer than uncircumcised men. Additionally, babies, who were subjected to circumcision before the age of one, had a 14 percent reduced risk of suffering from prostate cancer because the removal of the foreskin at an early age protects against the most aggressive forms of cancer in the long run.

"This proportion reflects what has been shown in other studies," Researcher Marie-Élise Parent said in a press release.

Prostate cancer is uncommon among Jewish or Muslim community as majority of the men are circumcised. While the researchers have not yet identified the actual causes of this cancer, they have pin-pointed three risk factors associated with the medical condition - age, a family history and Black African ethnic origins.

Among the participants, 178 blacks (78 percent belonged to Haitian origin) faced 1.4 times elevated risk of prostate cancer than Whites. Around 30 percent of the Black participants were circumcised in comparison with 40 percent of the White men.

Researchers have not yet determined how circumcision prevents men from developing prostate cancer. Previous studies showed that the operation decreases the chance of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

"Unlike the skin that covers our bodies, the inner surface of the foreskin is composed of mostly non-keratinized mucosal epithelium, which is more easily penetrated by microbes that cause infections," Parent said.

Further studies are required to confirm the positive effect of the circumcision, especially on the Black population, due to the presence of few Black men in the research.

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