NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A study of nearly 1000 men in three countries has yielded more evidence that circumcision helps protect against infection with human papillomavirus.
Human papillomavirus has long been known as a cause of genital warts, but in recent years most reports have focused on its association with cervical cancer. The virus, which is transmitted sexually and by skin-to-skin contact, can also cause anal and penis cancers.
"Interventions such as circumcision may provide a low-cost method to reduce human papillomavirus infection," Dr. Anna R. Giuliano, from the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, Florida, and colleagues conclude in a report in the International Journal of Cancer.
Using data from the Human papillomavirus In Men (HIM) study group, the investigators determined factors associated with human papillomavirus infection in 988 men, ages 18 to 70 years, living in Brazil, Mexico or the United States.
Human papillomavirus infection was strongly related to sexual behavior and circumcision, the investigators found.
"In this multi-national study where approximately 60 percent of study participants were un-circumcised, we found circumcision to be associated with a significantly reduced risk of...human papillomavirus," they report.
These findings, they point out, mirror those of a previous study in a mixed ethnic group of men from Tucson, Arizona, and are similar to what others have reported in studies conducted in Spain, Columbia, Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand, Mexico and Denmark, the team notes.
By contrast, as the number of lifetime female sexual partners, number of female partners in the past 3 months, and number of anal sex partners increased, so did the risk of human papillomavirus infection.
Reported race of Asian/Pacific Islander was also linked to an increased risk of human papillomavirus infection.
Unlike what has been shown in women, age appeared to have no bearing on the risk of infection, the authors note.
SOURCE: International Journal of Cancer, March 15, 2009.