Cecil Adams's columns on circumcision [The Straight Dope, January 28 and March 25] are extremely misleading and a disservice to parents who may be influenced by his sloppy thinking.
In telling parents to "flip a coin" on circumcision, he ignores both the fact that circumcision is intensely painful and the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which says circumcision is not essential. As for the much discussed risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs), few male babies, circumcised or not, get UTIs, and these normally respond well to antibiotics. His statistics alleging low risks from circumcision reflect studies that examined records only until babies were discharged from the hospital. Studies that followed babies for months after birth and included actual examinations revealed many times as many side effects.
On the supposed risk of penile cancer, the prevailing view of the medical profession is that soap and water offer the same advantages as circumcision and without the surgical risk.
Adams admits that circumcision can diminish sexual pleasure for a substantial percentage of men but missed the main point: What right have parents to inflict frivolous surgery that may diminish their son's future sex life? This is clearly a decision for him to make as a man. If he wants circumcision, he can always have it, but he can't get his foreskin back once it's gone.
It has long been established that the foreskin contains a large concentration of specialized nerve endings and is not ordinary skin. I would challenge Cecil Adams to find a single noncircumcised man who, after checking the inner surface of his foreskin, would call it "ordinary" skin.
For more information, contact the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers locally at 708-441-8027.
Harry S. Meislahn
Illinois Affiliate, National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers