The decision to circumcise a male child is one for each family to make (“Near Bris,” Nov. 17).
We have just been spared the ill-conceived efforts of extremists in California who attempted to criminalize the performance of circumcision — a ritual procedure for Jews and Muslims for the past 5,000 — even by a physician. Aside from religious considerations, the health benefits of circumcision are sufficient reason to consider it, as is the case with Biblical dietary restrictions, pertinent to the time they were written. In addition to the marked improvement in HIV rates in Africa and decreased incidence of that infection in circumcised men, it is not necessary to mention the hygienic benefits of circumcision. Cancer of the penis is practically unknown in circumcised men, as well as that cancer of the cervix is rare in cultures where the men are circumcised.
Recent studies indicate that the incidence of genital herpes and urinary infections is lower in circumcised males. These findings have caused the Academy of Pediatrics to reverse a statement against circumcision and to recommend it, and a similar recommendation has come from the AMA.
Let those who continue to rant against circumcision make their own decisions for their male offspring, but science is on the side of continuing this practice for medical and ritual purposes.
Bertram Levinstone, MD