Circumcision may protect from genital warts
Men who are circumcised may be more protected against persistent infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV)
Men who are circumcised may be more protected against persistent infection
with the human papilloma virus (HPV) that causes genital warts
Compared with women, little is known about men's risk factors for HPV infection -- or the factors that affect their ability to clear the virus.
There are more than 100 strains of HPV, some of which cause genital warts. In most people, the immune system clears the infection fairly rapidly. However, persistent infection with certain HPV strains can eventually lead to cancer
. Persistent HPV infection is the primary cause of cervical cancer
, but it can also lead to cancers of the anus and the penis in men. Researchers from America followed 285 men aged between 18 to 44 years for 18 months testing for HPV every 6 months. Overall, it was found that 29 percent of the men became infected with the virus over 1 year with 19 percent acquiring an HPV strain linked to cancer. Also, among those who became infected with the human papilloma virus, circumcised men were more likely to have their immune systems clear the virus by the end of the 18-month study. When it came to the risk of acquiring the virus in the first place, the biggest risk factor was having a large number of lifetime sex partners.
Men who said they'd had more than 16 sex partners had about three times the HPV risk of those with fewer sex partners. They were also nearly 10 times more likely to contract a potentially cancer-causing strain. When it came to HPV clearance, circumcision appeared beneficial. Circumcised men were three times more likely to clear any type of HPV infection by the end of the follow-up period and six times more likely to clear a cancer-linked HPV strain.
The reasons for these findings are not clear but the researchers suggest that circumcised men are less likely to get skin abrasions during sex, which might mean that fewer HPV particles enter their bodies.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases
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