Monday, 28 May 2012


To be or not to be ...........................
The mark of a good action is that it appears inevitable in retrospect. So let us do or die.

Circumcision is one of those tough decisions. Some people say it has important health benefits. Others say that it is painful and harmful. Then add to the mix the religious aspects -- circumcision is an important ritual in the Jewish faith -- and cultural overtones -- such as boys who get made fun of in locker rooms. It's not difficult to see why the topic is controversial.

A new study gives parents more information to use as they make their decision.

It's not an earth-shattering study. Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle compared data from men who had prostate cancer with others who didn't. They found that being circumcised before the first sexual intercourse lowered the risk of prostate cancer by 15%. Researchers think that it has to do with preventing infection and inflammation, which are known to be factors in causing cancer.

Fifteen percent isn't a huge amount. But clearly, decreasing the risk of cancer in our children's future is a good thing.

Medical studies suggest that circumcision decreases the risk of cancer of the penis and urinary tract infection. Studies in Africa show that circumcision can decrease the risk of men catching HIV from women by 50% to 60%. It may help prevent other sexually transmitted infections as well. So there are upsides to the procedure.

But there are downsides, too. Any medical procedure has risks, and circumcision is no different. The risks include pain, bleeding or mistakes. With experienced hands and proper anesthesia, however, those risks are very small. There is also the possibility that not having a foreskin can decrease sexual pleasure later in life, but it's not certain. And some say that it's not fair to make such a permanent decision for an infant.

There just isn't a clear answer when it comes to circumcision. That's why both the American Urological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics come down squarely in the middle. They say doctors should discuss the risks and benefits with families. Ultimately, though, families need to decide for themselves.

If you are contemplating circumcision for your son or a future son, the best advice is to take the time to get informed. Do some focused thinking and talking about it before you make a decision. Find out everything you can about the medical risks and benefits. Your doctor can help guide you in this.

Talk to your partner, and understand everything that each of you brings to the decision. For example, many fathers want their son to have a penis that looks like theirs. However, some may not have thought about other benefits or risks.

Taking time to do this research and discussion can make all the difference when it comes to choosing what's best for your son and your family.

All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.