Fake-news alert: Male circumcision NOT linked to cancer of the penis

Comments 2

A news story saying that South Africa’s health minister urged men not to undergo voluntary circumcision as it can cause cancer of the penis is going viral. Not only is the claim false - the very opposite is true.

The growing dangers of fake news are becoming clearer by the day.

In South Africa, a fake news story claiming that male circumcision puts men at risk of cancer of the penis has surfaced online. It is published by a site called iMzansi and has been shared nearly 12,000 times on Facebook.

The article claims that the South African government has published a warning that “UK scientists have discovered a new type of cancer called forpenal cancer”.

When asked for an explanation, South Africa’s minister of health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, supposedly told a local radio station that “as faeces are passed some remain inside and some are even trapped by the hair around the anus, in that case all those who are circumsided [sic] are in danger as the carcinogen eventually reach the penis, we have received reports of forpenal cancer around South Africa and the statistics are very disturbing.”

The minister then supposedly “urged fellow citizens to share the warning… in order to save lives”.

Male circumcision REDUCES cancer risk

The South African department of health has moved swiftly to dismiss the article as a “hoax” that “must be ignored”.

In a statement, the department said: “These claims are completely false. They are dangerous and criminal as they have the potential to deny the public a highly effective, scientifically proven HIV risk reduction intervention.”

Besides, one of the largest medical sciences’ research databases in the US shows no results for the supposed newly discovered cancer. The only place where “forpenal” cancer does pop up is on similar websites carrying a similar report in South Africa, Malawi and Cameroon.

In fact, two separate population studies showed that circumcised men’s risk of cancer of the penis was three times less than that of uncircumcised men.

A recent review of all research into circumcision and penile cancer shows that male circumcision reduces the risk of men contracting the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cancer of the penis. Through this, their female partners’ risk of cervical cancer also decreases, because HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer among women.

Conclusion: The claim is completely false

The link claimed between cancer of the penis and male circumcision does not exist. In fact, all available research shows the exact opposite effect.

Voluntary male circumcision reduces the risk of men contracting the cancer-causing human papilloma virus, which can cause cancer of the penis. As a result, they are also less likely to pass it on to women who, in turn, are less likely to get cervical cancer.

Because circumcision has been shown to reduce the risk of female-to-male HIV transmission by 60%, it is an important tool in fighting HIV infection in a country with some of the highest rates in the world.

These stories and sites are harmful to people trying to make informed decisions about their health.


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Comment on this report

Comments 2
  1. By Janie Lee

    My concern is that I have had to correct the so called experts in the past. If you will ever notice about every ten or 20 years the so called experts will start correcting them selves because they argue with each other, or they absolutely have to because they have caused some major problems doing what they were doing. It’s not in just one area that’s for sure or we wouldn’t have had the Flynt water crises and the reporters before it happened spreading good news about it if they did and if they were questioning what they were doing saying they were doing it wrong then they probably had experts on the gov side calling the reporters liars until the truth had to come out. I don’t like news based on popular or common thoughts of the time those can be wrong on a mass level. It’s like bridge collapses when scientific experts were in charge of them. So I know it’s not only about health issues. Now everyone of the questions the hunger strikers in 2003 asked and they denied called fake news they have had to admit. I guess what I am trying to say is don’t be to quick to trust anybody not even yourself. Always search and question because it could be you giving out fake news. I did it one night but I stopped it in its tracks when some girl told me she was there and an eye witness and what I was repeating from a reporter wasn’t true and I went back and asked. Then everything that was being said about Trump wasn’t exactly true either and I had to correct some of it. We are humans we are all subject to making mistakes. When we do our best and we find out we are wrong we should all be humble enough to be the first one to admit it. You can hurt a lot of people and you probably aren’t always doing it intentionally. Reporters can be very biased because it’s coming from their needs or point of view. They chose who they want to use as sources or who they don’t so forth and so on. I don’t claim to be a reporter really I claim to be a writer. A writer knows that the first draft isn’t the finished product. You may not get the actual facts until 20 or 30 years later. Most news writers write on a 6th grade reading level.

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  2. By Jay

    Cancer of penis is actually NOT linked to a foreskin or lack of. The truth is the three American pro circumcision researchers misquoted the results and all three teams were in a cabal of circumcision promotors who had as early as 1985 published false and speculative claims male circumcision prevents HIV. Yet how could it. HIV is spread through any number of way were bodily fluids are exchanged. The researchers caught the attention of the Clintons and Bill Gates. They simply repeated the 60 percent reduction without critical review of the fake work. Meanwhile the WHO wishing US funds backed the Clintons and of course Gates. But the studies had many problems are one was who conducted them and the false environments they used. So Africans have been fooled yet again. How millions would fall for a circumcision and then also be told use safe sex and condoms. But wait condoms would protect in any event as would non surgical interventions. No where in medicine has a surgery been used to prevent a disease that is contracted by behavior and multiple expose.

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