It comes across as pro-circumcision but, given the facts that it presents, that would be the logical conclusion.
Given that I have my foreskin, and am rather attached to it, I just wanted to be totally sure I wasn't being biased myself.
And yes, given many of the facts they present, circumcision looks to be a good option. Of course they don't really push simple, straight-forward answers to reduce the apparent risk of having a foreskin, like washing regularly and properly.
And while I appreciate the high level evidence that uncircumcised men are more likely to catch AIDS, surely circumcised or not they should be being taught to use condoms.
Given that a lot of the medical data was from western countries I would assume that hygiene is about as good as it is going to get.
AIDS is a bit of a furphy in the overall picture for us, but is relevant to African countries.
What the overall data presents though is that, like some other religious/cultural practices, there is are sound reasons behind it. What I can't figure out was how it got started.
Just with a quick look, these bits stand out as making it pro in an unbalanced way:
"Improving post-operative follow-up and accepting that cosmetic defects which will not affect function nevertheless demand remedial action are the key ways in which the medical profession could improve the acceptance of circumcision and make its medical benefits available to more of the population."
That doesn't come across as un-biased.
"From the medical point of view the benefits of circumcision hugely outweigh the risks. Nevertheless these benefits are not overwhelming - the serious problems, such as cancer of the penis, are rare and the common problems, such as phimosis and balanitis, are rarely serious."
How did they get 'hugely' out of 'not overwhelming'?
My understanding is that in Western countries, the benefits are so small that if you applied cutting off a bit of your body to avoid these risks to to other parts of the body, you might as well also chop off a person's toes to prevent serious infection from ingrown toenails, cut off women's breasts to prevent breast cancer (that is done, but only when the risks are very high, and not with babies - it is their decision to make when they're older), and any other part of the body that might get an infection, particularly if you don't clean it when you shower.
The only reason it's still done in Western countries is tradition and people who are are misinformed. If it had never been done and suddenly someone suggested it should be introduced, based on the current medical understanding of the risks/benefits, there is no way it would be done, and it would be considered child mutilation.
I come across as 'anti', but that's purely based on the information I have, there's no agenda or personal history surrounding the issue.
And as a PS it doesn't bother me whether a guy I'm with is or isn't, except that I think it's a shame if they have been circumcised (although understandable as it was pretty standard 30-40 years ago).
As I commented with Paul, was pretty sure it was, but then, I'm not unbiased myself, my preference being to keep it unless there is an obvious problem. That said, if there is a problem, be it medical, emotional, or psychological, I have no issues with the foreskin being removed.
The bit that really got me was-
In the end it comes down to your philosophy of child rearing.
* If you feel that parents have the right to make decisions for the health and well-being of their children you will probably favour circumcision. There is no doubt at all that it offers real health benefits.
* If you feel that it is important that your son should be able to decide for himself whether he wants a foreskin or not, or that you shouldn't tamper with nature unless it's absolutely necessary, you may decide to leave it alone.
The inference being that if you don't have your kid circumcised, you may not have the health and well-being of your child at heart.
Erk, didn't read that bit, that clinches it!
The benefits do "hugely" outweigh the risks, it's just that the risks are very, very small (nearly zero if using trained personnel) so the benefits don't have to be that great to be overwhelming. It certainly isn't like the case for childhood immunization where the benefit is huge against a minor risk.
Actually if we could remove the appendix and tonsils as easily and with as little risk then we would probably do that as well. I can't think of any other piece of the body that could be removed with so little risk of infection or complication.
You could more persuasively argue against piercing a child's ears, something that is done routinely yet offers no benefits whatsoever. Although I've never heard of a child dying of complications, infections seem relatively common. So the child suffers pain and discomfort so that it can be fashionable.
2008-02-08 12:09 pm (UTC)
I seem to remember reading somewhere (damn this spongy mind of mine that picks up random facts but not where they came from) that the appendix actually does have a use: apparently, it's a place where all the gut bacteria can be stored in case the active colonies get wiped out.
Or something like that.
Which would explain why a burst appendix is such a big deal.
But consider this comment to be unreliable rumour, please; I can't back it up quickly with any references.
One recent study found that it does seem to help with the immune system early in life, don't remember the details. You don't need it, but it's a handy bonus for some folks.
2008-02-12 12:03 am (UTC)
Trying to contact you
Can you drop me an e-mail at celestialcobbler(a)hotmail dot com. I need to know if you were on the Conflux committee last year?