Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Off with their Heads!

I've written before about a possible beneficial side effect to circumcision - the reduction in HIV infection risk.

In an effort to identify other changes in circumcised penises (other than the obvious), and to drum up business for the local mohel, scientists have examined differences in the penis microbiome in a recent paper published in PLoS ONE. They conclude:
The anoxic microenvironment of the subpreputial space may support pro-inflammatory anaerobes that can activate Langerhans cells to present HIV to CD4 cells in draining lymph nodes. Thus, the reduction in putative anaerobic bacteria after circumcision may play a role in protection from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
While the main thrust of the paper is the reason for the previously mentioned HIV risk reduction, there are some other interesting outcomes for the reduced numbers of an anoxic environment and the corresponding bacteria. Mike the Mad Biologist has more:
This seems to be a much more compelling finding: circumcision might reduce bacterial vaginosis. While bacterial vaginosis isn't dangerous except in very limited circumstances, it still is a nuisance. To me, that's the compelling finding, although vaginas probably make news editors giggle, so that's probably why vaginosis wasn't covered.
Somehow I still don't think people will be queueing up...


Anonymous said...

My advice to men- Skip the circumcision! Men and women, if you're concerned about bacteria, consume more probiotics, including
lactobacillus acidophilus taken orally and applied topically. This will increase the number of good bacteria inside the body and upon the skin, and help counteract the harmful bacteria. Most stores sell probiotics today, and they're not hard to find. This dietary approach is far less invasive than putting knives to the genitals, but perhaps less satisfying to these researchers.

Anonymous Coward said...

Topical pro-biotics? I like where you are going with this... Rub-On(Tm) "apply directly to the pecker". Now if we make it oil-based and market to 15-20 y olds, we can stand to make a fortune...