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Marilyn Milos fibs about circumcision and penile cancer

April 5, 2022

Yesterday Intact America board member Marilyn Milos wrote a column to answer a mother's question about circumcision as a preventative measure against penile cancer. [1] Milos's response is full of false and misleading statements.

Milos began by providing the key statistics about penile cancer, based on estimates by the American Cancer Society. [2] She compared them to the statisics for breast cancer, concluding "despite the higher incidence of breast cancer, no doctor recommends removing a baby girl's breasts after birth." Of course not! Unlike the foreskin breasts have several vital functions. Melanie Lindwall Schaab, RN, MS, FNP-C has written an exhaustive analysis comparing circumcision to removal of breast buds and other common amputations. [3]

The Intact America nurse claimed that the ACS "questions the association between circumcision and penile cancer risk," linking to a page on the ACS website. [4] On another page the ACS cites "not being circumcised" as a definitive risk factor. "Men who were circumcised as children may have a much lower chance of getting penile cancer than those who were not. In fact, some experts say that circumcision as an infant prevents this cancer. The same protective effect is not seen if circumcision is done as an adult." [5]

Milos stated that the biggest risk is "associated with genital hygiene and HPV infection." She failed to note that uncircumcised men are more likely to develop HPV. According to the ACS "men who are not circumcised may be more likely to get and stay infected with HPV." [5] Circumcision reduces the risk of HPV, which in turn reduces the risk of cancer. Milos said that "proper genital hygiene and conscientious condom use" are all that is needed to protect against penile cancer. The point is that many men don't practice genital hygiene and consistent condom use. Circumcision provides an extra layer of protection. Another article by Schaab addresses the claim that men can just wear a condom to prevent disease. [6]

Milos dismissed penile cancer as "a rare disease of elderly men." It's bizarre that an 82 year-old woman - touted as the compassionate nurse who founded the intactivist movement - flippantly dismisses a threat to elder health that is easily preventable. The hope of every parent blessed with a newborn son is that her child will grow up and live to enjoy old age. Each elderly man may be someone's wife, brother, father, uncle, father-in-law, grandfather, and even great-grandfather. It would bring no comfort to him and his loved ones that his golden years were cut short in order to preserve an unnecessary flap of skin. Moreover, there is no age that is safe from penile cancer. Tragically a 26 year-old English soccer player died from penile cancer in 2018. He left behind a 6 year-old son and a fiancée who was 7 1/2 months pregnant with his daughter. [7] A 45 year-old British man succombed to the disease the following year. [8] If these men had been circumcised at birth, it's almost certain they would be alive today.

Marilyn Milos concluded by repeating the popular intactivist claim that "more than 100 baby boys die each year from circumcisions." This myth was invented by Dan Bollinger, vice president of the Intact America board, who made two false assumptions about perinatal mortality. [9] In actuality, circumcision deaths are extremely rare, with fewer than one per year out of 1.3 million newborn circumcisions performed in the United States. A boy born in a hospital in the U.S.A. is at least 400 times more likely (and probably far more likely) to die from penile cancer than from circumcision.


Milos fibs series

Marilyn Milos fibs about circumcision and penile cancer

[1] Marilyn Milos; "Ask Marilyn - Circumcision Is a Bigger Risk Than Penile Cancer"; Intact America blog; April 4, 2022

[2] "Key Statistics for Penile Cancer"; American Cancer Society; Last Revised January 12, 2022

[3] Melanie Lindwall Schaab, RN, MS, FNP-C; "Why not the breast buds?" Circumcision Choice; January 7, 2018

[4] "Risk Factors for Penile Cancer"; American Cancer Society; Last Revised: June 25,2018

[5] "Can Penile Cancer Be Prevented"; American Cancer Society; Last Revised: October 19, 2017

[6] Melanie Lindwall Schaab, RN, MS, FNP-C; "Just wear a condom?" Circumcision Choice; July 11, 2020

[9] "Circumcision deaths"; Circumcision Choice; March 6, 2021


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