BALTIMORE, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Male circumcision, usually performed for religious or cultural reasons, could serve a health purpose in reducing the spread of disease, U.S. researchers say.
In an article published in the British journal Lancet, researchers say removal of the foreskin could reduce the spread of human papillomavirus, or HPV, which in persistent infections in women can lead to cervical cancer, ABC News reported Friday.
Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide for women.
Studies have shown circumcised men are 32 to 35 percent less likely to contract HPV, and the new research indicates women whose partners are circumcised are 28 percent less likely to become infected with HPV.
Controlled trials have shown circumcision decreases the risk of HIV, HPV and herpes. In women it reduces the risk of bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis and now HPV.
Though these trials were done in African countries, they support observational studies performed in the United States, study author Dr. Aaron Tobian of Johns Hopkins University said.
"Many will argue that these findings are in Africa and they do not represent the U.S.; however, almost all of the supporting observational studies for this area were performed on U.S. populations," he says.
"We believe the cumulative scientific evidence supporting circumcision is now overwhelming."