A review of studies has found that the health benefits of infant male circumcision vastly outweigh the risks involved in the procedure.
But the study, published online in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, also found that while the prevalence of circumcision among American men ages 14 to 59 increased to 81 percent from 79 percent over the past decade, the rate of newborn circumcision has declined by 6 percentage points, to 77 percent, since the 1960s.
The authors conclude that the benefits — among them reduced risks of urinary tract infection, prostate cancer, sexually transmitted diseases and, in female partners, cervical cancer — outweigh the risks of local infection or bleeding. Several studies, including two randomized clinical trials, found no long-term adverse effects of circumcision on sexual performance or pleasure.
One cost-benefit analysis that considered infant urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases found that if circumcision rates were decreased to the 10 percent typical in European countries, the additional direct medical costs over 10 years of births would be more than $4.4 billion.
“Male circumcision is in principle equivalent to childhood vaccination,” said the lead author, Brian J. Morris, emeritus professor of medical sciences at the University of Sydney. “Just as there are opponents of vaccination, there are opponents of circumcision. But their arguments are emotional and unscientific, and should be disregarded.”
A version of this article appears in print on 04/08/2014, on page D6 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Childhood: Benefits From Circumcision.
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