Green: Circumcision

BJU International, Volume 84, Issue 1: Page 187, July 1999.


Having read the supplement on circumcision [1] we feel that two points may be worthy of interest. The first concerns the theological theories for circumcision and the scarcity of any discussion concerning a more practical reason for initiating the procedure. It was noted in the desert conflicts of the Second World War, and more recently in the Gulf War, that soldiers appeared to suffer from an increased risk of posthitis. As much as religious doctrine is often underpinned by sensible practical reasoning and circumcision appears to have been initially practised by races from desert or arid regions, could the origin of circumcision have been to protect against this uncomfortable condition?

CIRP logo Note:

The belief that circumcision benefits men who live in the desert is believed to be a medical myth. CIRP is unaware of any medical evidence to support the above claim of Drs. Green and Hunter-Campbell that posthitis is more prevalent in the desert.

The part below is more important. Drs. Green and Hunter-Campbell are warning that the British malpractice insurance companies may not defend doctors who perform non-therapeutic circumcisions and who are sued as a result of the circumcision.

The second issue concerns the indications for circumcision and legal issues. It may interest surgeons to know that a senior medico-legal advisor recently stated that defence organizations would be less likely to support a surgeon who was operating in the UK for non-clinical reasons. Circumcision for purely religious reasons was included in this category.

J.S.A. Green and P. Hunter-Campbell, Royal Free Hospital, and RAMC(V), London.

[1] Circumcision. BJU Int 1999;83 (Suppl 1)

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