April 12, 2002
Conducted by researchers in Spain and four other countries and supported by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France, the cervical cancer study looked at nearly 3,800 women, half of whom had cervical cancer and half of whom were cancer-free. There was only a slight overall difference between the two groups in how many had circumcised partners and how many had uncircumcised ones. But the researchers found a strong difference in the risk of cervical cancer when it came to women whose partners were especially sexually active. Women whose high- risk partners were not circumcised were five times more likely to get cancer than those whose partners were circumcised. High-risk men were defined as those who had at least six sex partners and started having sex before age 17.
Researcher Dr. Xavier Castellsague of the Catalan Institute for Oncology in Barcelona said it would not make sense to promote circumcision as a way to control cervical cancer in the United States, where Pap smears usually detect it at a treatable stage. However, he said circumcision could make a big difference in developing countries where there is no regular screening for cervical cancer.
But Ronald Goldman, executive director of the Circumcision Resource Center, which opposes the procedure, said the study is unreliable because it pools data from seven studies in five countries. "Cutting off a normal healthy functioning body part to prevent an unlikely disease or infection would be like pulling healthy teeth to prevent tooth decay," he said.
04.11.02; Janet McConnaughey
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