Circumcision: PZ Myers is still wrong

Update: This post has received a pingback from Jesse Bering. It does not support the contention he makes, nor does he make it clear which “outspoken atheist blogger” he means (me or PZ). I have asked him to correct his obvious error, but he refuses.

PZ Myers irresponsibly said this last year concerning circumcision:

The health benefits. Total bullshit. As one of the speakers in the movie explains, there have been progressive excuses: from it prevents masturbation to it prevents cancer to it prevents AIDS. The benefits all vanish with further studies and are all promoted by pro-circumcision organizations. It doesn’t even make sense: let’s not pretend people have been hacking at penises for millennia because there was a clinical study. Hey, let’s chop off our pinkie toes and then go looking for medical correlations!

One Pharyngula user meandered over here to defend PZ, but she was crushed under the weight of studies and evidence attesting to potential health benefits from circumcision. Now one major group has turned around on all those ‘vanishing benefits’:

The American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday announced its first major shift on circumcision in more than a decade, concluding that the health benefits of the procedure clearly outweigh any risks.

“There is clear evidence that supports the health benefits of circumcision,” said Susan Blank, who led the 14-member task force that formulated the new policy being published in the journal Pediatrics

For starters, Blank says, circumcision helps baby boys pretty much immediately.

“The health benefits of male circumcision include a drop in the risk of urinary tract infection in the first year of life by up to 90 percent,” she says.

But there’s a much bigger reason to do it, Blank said. Circumcised males are far less likely to get infected with a long list of sexually transmitted diseases.

“It drops the risk of heterosexual HIV acquisition by about 60 percent. It drops the risk of human papillomavirus [HPV], herpes virus and other infectious genital ulcers,” she says.

It also reduces the chances that men will spread HPV to their wives and girlfriends, protecting them from getting cervical cancer.

“We’ve reviewed the data and, you know, we have gone through them with a fine-tooth comb, and the data are pretty convincing,” she says.

So now the only question that remains is, When is PZ Myers going to recant his blatantly and irresponsibly false statement where he said that health benefits of circumcision vanish with further studies? It would also be nice if he could clarify whether or not the American Academy of Pediatrics is a “pro-circumcision organization”.

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