Male circumcision is carried out for many reasons, including for religious and health purposes.
But new research has added to the body of evidence suggesting it has many health benefits.
The Canadian study revealed men who are circumcised are less likely to develop the disease.
The report, published in the journal BJU International, showed men circumcised within one year of birth were 14 per cent less likely to get prostate cancer than average.
However, men who had the procedure after the age of 35 were 45 per cent less likely to develop the disease.
The biggest protective effect was found in black men – they were 60 per cent less likely to develop prostate cancer if they were circumcised.
‘This is a particularly interesting finding, as black men have the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world and this has never been explained,’ said Dr Marie-Élise Parent of the University of Quebec.
‘This novel finding warrants further examination in future studies that have a larger number of black participants.’
Dr Parent noted circumcision may reduce the risk of contracting and maintaining a sexually transmitted infection, which has been considered to be a risk factor for prostate cancer.
This may explain the reduced risk of prostate cancer observed in males circumcised at a younger age.
‘We do not know why a protective effect was observed for men circumcised after the age of 35.
‘These men may have had a pathologic condition of the foreskin that lead to them being circumcised,’ she added.
Until now, the only risk factors for prostate cancer that had been identified were advanced age, a family history of the disease and African ancestry.
Dr Parent and Dr Andrea Spence, both from the University of Quebec, led a team that ran a study to investigate the possible association between circumcision and prostate cancer risk.
They looked at 1,590 prostate cancer patients in Montreal as well as 1,618 healthy people.