The 2010 Royal Australasian College of Physicians' policy statement Circumcision of infant males' is not evidence based

School of Medical Sciences and Bosch Institute, The University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.
Internal Medicine Journal (Impact Factor: 1.64). 07/2012; 42(7):822-8. DOI: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.2012.02823.x
Source: PubMed


Infant male circumcision (MC) is an important issue guided by Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) policy. Here we analytically review the RACP's 2010 policy statement 'Circumcision of infant males'. Comprehensive evaluation in the context of published research was used. We find that the Statement is not a fair and balanced representation of the literature on MC. It ignores, downplays, obfuscates or misrepresents the considerable evidence attesting to the strong protection MC affords against childhood urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted infections (human immunodeficiency virus, human papilloma virus, herpes simplex virus type 2, trichomonas and genital ulcer disease), thrush, inferior penile hygiene, phimosis, balanoposthitis and penile cancer, and in women protection against human papilloma virus, herpes simplex virus type 2, bacterial vaginosis and cervical cancer. The Statement exaggerates the complication rate. Assertions that 'the foreskin has a functional role' and 'is a primary sensory part of the penis' are not supported by research, including randomised controlled trials. Instead of citing these and meta-analyses, the Statement selectively cites poor quality studies. Its claim, without support from a literature-based risk-benefit analysis, that the currently available evidence does 'not warrant routine infant circumcision in Australia and New Zealand' is misleading. The Statement fails to explain that performing MC in the neonatal period using local anaesthesia maximises benefits, safety, convenience and cost savings. Because the RACP's policy statement is not a fair and balanced representation of the current literature, it should not be used to guide policy. In the interests of public health and individual well-being, an extensive, comprehensive, balanced review of the scientific literature and a risk-benefit analysis should be conducted to formulate policy.

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Available from: Brian Morris, Mar 07, 2014
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    • "In particular, the association between phimosis and penile cancer has been well studied, and a causal link between the two conditions is widely accepted (Larke et al. 2011; Pizzocaro et al. 2010). A link between infant circumcision and penile cancer has been drawn, with a degree of controversy in the literature as some advocate infant circumcision as preventative of penile cancer (Dodge et al. 1963; Morris et al. 2012; Svoboda and Van Howe 2013). Here we compare the incidence and mortality of penile cancer over a number of years, between Australia, the US "
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    ABSTRACT: To investigate and compare the trends in incidence and mortality of penile cancer between Australia, England and Wales, and the US, and provide hypotheses for these trends. Cancer registry data from 1982 to 2005 inclusive were obtained from Australia, England and Wales, and the United States. From these data, age-specific, -standardised and mortality:incidence ratios were calculated, and compared. The overall incidence of penile cancer in England and Wales (1.44 per 100,000 man-years) was higher than in Australia (0.80 per 100,000), and the US (0.66 per 100,000). Incidence of penile cancer in all three countries has remained relatively stable over time. Similarly, although the mortality rates were also higher in England and Wales (0.37 per 100,000 man-years) compared to Australia (0.18 per 100,000) and the US (0.15 per 100,000), the mortality/incidence ratios were similar for all three countries. Penile cancer incidence is low, affecting mainly older men. Rates differ between the three countries, being twice as common in England and Wales as in the other studied regions. Circumcision rates have a potential influence on these rates but are not the sole explanation for the variation.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · SpringerPlus
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    • "The claim of reduction of the risk of STIs to justify neonatal circumcision continues today, often supported by selective bibliographies [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]. When the entire medical literature is reviewed, these claims become difficult to substantiate . "
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    ABSTRACT: The claim that circumcision reduces the risk of sexually transmitted infections has been repeated so frequently that many believe it is true. A systematic review and meta-analyses were performed on studies of genital discharge syndrome versus genital ulcerative disease, genital discharge syndrome, nonspecific urethritis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital ulcerative disease, chancroid, syphilis, herpes simplex virus, human papillomavirus, and contracting a sexually transmitted infection of any type. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, and human papillomavirus are not significantly impacted by circumcision. Syphilis showed mixed results with studies of prevalence suggesting intact men were at great risk and studies of incidence suggesting the opposite. Intact men appear to be of greater risk for genital ulcerative disease while at lower risk for genital discharge syndrome, nonspecific urethritis, genital warts, and the overall risk of any sexually transmitted infection. In studies of general populations, there is no clear or consistent positive impact of circumcision on the risk of individual sexually transmitted infections. Consequently, the prevention of sexually transmitted infections cannot rationally be interpreted as a benefit of circumcision, and any policy of circumcision for the general population to prevent sexually transmitted infections is not supported by the evidence in the medical literature.
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract A potential impediment to evidence-based policy development on medical male circumcision (MC) for HIV prevention in all countries worldwide is the uncritical acceptance by some of arguments used by opponents of this procedure. Here we evaluate recent opinion-pieces of 13 individuals opposed to MC. We find that these statements misrepresent good studies, selectively cite references, some containing fallacious information, and draw erroneous conclusions. In marked contrast, the scientific evidence shows MC to be a simple, low-risk procedure with very little or no adverse long-term effect on sexual function, sensitivity, sensation during arousal or overall satisfaction. Unscientific arguments have been recently used to drive ballot measures aimed at banning MC of minors in the USA, eliminate insurance coverage for medical MC for low-income families, and threaten large fines and incarceration for health care providers. Medical MC is a preventative health measure akin to immunisation, given its protective effect against HIV infection, genital cancers and various other conditions. Protection afforded by neonatal MC against a diversity of common medical conditions starts in infancy with urinary tract infections and extends throughout life. Besides protection in adulthood against acquiring HIV, MC also reduces morbidity and mortality from multiple other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and genital cancers in men and their female sexual partners. It is estimated that over their lifetime one-third of uncircumcised males will suffer at least one foreskin-related medical condition. The scientific evidence indicates that medical MC is safe and effective. Its favourable risk/benefit ratio and cost/benefit support the advantages of medical MC.
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