Saturday, September 26, 2009

Operation Abraham Coming to USA

Three cheers for Dr. Inon Schenker! A couple weeks ago, Ha'aretz News, an Israeli paper, published a story about Dr. Schenker and something called Operation Abraham. The good doctor was at the recent CDC meeting in Atlanta and proposed bringing his Operation Abraham to America. As described in the newspaper, "Operation Abraham [is] a group of Israeli doctors who gained expertise in circumcision by performing the procedure thousands of times, quickly and safely, on Russian-Jewish men who were raised outside Jewish tradition and immigrated to Israel in the 1990s. "

Knowing that America has a growing foreskin problem, not only because too many boys are left uncircumcised, but also because our fast growing immigrant population is largely foreskin afflicted, Dr. Schenker suggests: "Why not bring mass adult male circumcision to the Hispanic and African-American communities of America?" Indeed, to all Americans, I would add, because we have many whites and asians here who still are at risk to themselves and their partners because of their uncircumcised status.

Operation Abraham is not something new and novel. The altruistic doctor and his team have already perfected it in African countries. Here's what Ha'aretz reported: "The resulting abstract, which Dr. Schenker presented in Atlanta, proposes to help train American doctors in much the same way as was effective in Swaziland: by working side by side and showing them how to circumcise efficiently. The innovation creates what Schenker called an "assembly line" technique, working in a team, using only local anesthesia and perfecting a "clamp" method of foreskin removal that uses forceps. The Israeli doctors boast that they are able to perform 30 or 40 circumcisions a day."

The link between HIV, STDs, HPV, cancer, and all sorts of other pernicious diseases and the foreskin is now conclusive. Operation Abraham is a humanitarian effort to save the lives of millions of uncircumcised Americans who, through no fault of their own, were not circumcised at birth like most Americans.

So far, the U.S. government has not embraced Dr. Schenker's proposal. They should do so immediately. After all, U.S. taxpayers spend millions to circumcise Africans. Why not spend a little of that money on our own people? Readers of my blog know that I think it is hypocritical for us to circumcise the rest of the world and ignore our own. Dr. Schenker is offering a great public service.

The Ha'aretz article notes that some of the anti-circumcision foreskin lovers are trying to portray the Israeli docs as some sort of proselytizers for Judaism. That strikes me as anti-semitic. No, these docs are not mohels. No, they are not looking for Jewish converts. But, yes, they want to help restore America to its clean-cut status of the 1960s & 1970s. After all the money and support America has given Israel over the decades, I can't think of a better way for Israel to return the favor than to let its docs eliminate the foreskin from our continent.

Obviously, the expected recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics that all newborn boys be circumcised will help in the future, but Operation Abraham could be just what the doctor ordered for American males who were not so fortunate at birth. Dr. Schenker, we need you and want you!

Friday, September 11, 2009

UN Reaffirms Value of Universal Circumcision

Maybe, just maybe, we are beginning to see government agencies (outside of Africa) embrace the goal of universal circumcision, a society where the foreskin can no longer pose a threat to a male and his partners. Experts from the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, and the South African Centre for Epidemiological Modeling applied mathematical modeling to a number of studies showing the benefits of circumcision.

Here are some of their conclusions:

* "Using a 10-y time horizon, one new HIV infection would be averted for every five to 15 men newly circumcised. For the most successful interventions, where almost all men are circumcised, HIV incidence could be reduced by ~30%–50% over the same period."

* "Women, even if not directly protected, would benefit indirectly from the introduction or expansion of male circumcision services because their probability of encountering an HIV-infected male sexual partner gradually declines with programme scale-up."

* "Circumcising men who have not started sexual activity leads to the greatest population-level benefit in the long term. . . . Of course, circumcising both adult males and neonates would maximise the short- and long-term impact of circumcision on HIV incidence."

* "The estimated costs per adult male circumcision are between $30 and $60 depending on the programme setting, with neonatal circumcision costing about one-third this amount. . . . By comparison, estimates of discounted lifetime treatment costs typically exceed $7,000 per HIV infection if only first-line treatment is provided, and twice as much if second-line treatment is available."

Put simply, universal circumcision at birth provides the best health protection at the lowest cost. Circumcising before sexual activity is best, and one HIV case can be prevented for every five males circumcised. Isn't that worth it?

Now let's hope our friends at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are able to read this report through the fog of crap being tossed up by the anti-circ fanatics.

Monday, September 7, 2009

1954 Time Magazine Article Promotes Universal Circumcision

Sometimes the old ways of doing things make the most sense, even if the reasons for doing them advance with medical science. That's what came to mind as I read this 1954 article in an April 5 issue of Time Magazine. Entitled "Medicine: Circumcision & Cancer," the weekly news magazine, which I'm told (before my time) influenced a few generations of American parents, reinforced the growing belief among the parents of Babyboomers in the USA that a clean-cut penis was the only penis to have.

I'm going to reprint the article with my comments in bold italics. Enjoy.

Medicine: Circumcision & Cancer
TIME: April 5, 1954

"The fact that 85% of the boy babies born in U.S. private hospitals nowadays are circumcised, regardless of the parents' religious beliefs, may be an important factor in reducing cancer of the uterine cervix (neck of the womb) in years to come. Dr. Ernest L. Wynder. of Manhattan's Memorial Center for Cancer and Allied Diseases, has reached this comforting conclusion after studying the striking differences in the incidence of cervical cancer among women with different marital histories."

So by 1954, 85% of American boys were clean cut. That number probably grew to 95% ten years later. America had become, even 55 years ago, a circumcised nation. And reinforcing a mother's view that her son should be clean-cut is this report that a male's circumcision reduces cervical cancer in a woman.

"It all began with the oft-quoted observation that among Jewish women whose husbands have been routinely, ritually circumcised, cervical cancer is only one-tenth to one-fifth as common as among non-Jewish women of similar age and social status. Was this coincidence or what? To find out, Dr. Wynder arranged exhaustive interviews of 1,900 women in twelve U.S. hospitals scattered over four states; one-third of them had cervical cancer, while the rest (the controls) had other diseases of the pelvis."

"The answers ruled out the possibility of coincidence. They also ruled out pregnancy and number of pregnancies, abortions, miscarriages and douches as possible causes of this type of cancer (which, in frequency, is second only to breast cancer among U.S. women, and takes an estimated 14,000 lives a year, despite thousands of operations for removal).

Looks like Dr. Wynder knew what he was doing here, using lots of women (1,900) in four states. I suspect the anti-circ fanatics (and, fortunately, there were not any at the time) would have found something to complain about.

"Dr. Wynder's key findings:

¶ A woman whose husband is uncircumcised runs 2½ times as great a risk of cervical cancer as a woman, married only once, whose husband has been circumcised.

¶ A woman married only once, but beginning intercourse at 16, is twice as likely to develop cervical cancer as a woman married between 20 and 24. The likelihood keeps going down as the marriage age goes up.

¶ A woman who has two or more marital partners runs a proportionately greater risk of cervical cancer than those married once.

Note that circumcision is not the only factor Dr. Wynder found in the reduced rate of cervical cancer in women. Multiple husbands and early intercourse can increase the rates. But a woman whose husband has a foreskin is 2-1/2 times more likely to get cervical cancer than the woman with a clean-cut circumcised husband. Given that women so often call the shots about whether their son is circumcised, this kind of medical evidence must have been very persuasive indeed.

"That marriage and sexual relations are not the only elements in cervical cancer was shown by the fact that 1% of the victims had never had intercourse. To test his U.S. findings, Dr. Wynder enlisted the help of physicians in India and found direct confirmation: cervical cancer is far commoner among the wives of uncircumcised Hindus than among those of circumcised Moslems, though their hygienic standards are about the same. "

Again, even though cleanliness was the same among both, the wives of uncircumcised Hindus were at greater risk for cancer than circumcised Muslims. No surprise there. In fact, it matches the earlier observation about lower cervical cancer rates among Jewish women.

"Among men, penile cancer is far rarer than cervical cancer among women, but its occurrence follows the same pattern. Dr. Wynder's deduction: circumcision may be a big help in preventing both, presumably because it facilitates personal cleanliness."

When Time Magazine calls circumcision "a big help" back in 1954, you know that American parents were listening. Today, with so much more medical evidence in support of newborn circumcision because it reduces the risk of STDs, HIV, HPV, cancer, and the like, you have to wonder why the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics are being so slow to embrace what their parents and grandparents embraced 55 years ago. Except for a few fanatics with loud voices, the vast majority of American parents want to keep America a clean circumcised nation. We knew it in 1954 -- and we know it in 2009!