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The carcinogenicity of smegma: debunking a myth

Authors

  • RS Van Howe,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Pediatrics, Michigan State University School of Human Medicine, Marquette, MI and
      *Corresponding author, 1414 W. Fair Avenue, Suite 226, Marquette, MI 49855, USA, tel. +906 225 3925; fax +906 225 4838; E-mail: rsvanhowe@mgh.org
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  • FM Hodges

    1. Berkeley, CA, USA
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*Corresponding author, 1414 W. Fair Avenue, Suite 226, Marquette, MI 49855, USA, tel. +906 225 3925; fax +906 225 4838; E-mail: rsvanhowe@mgh.org

Abstract

Background  Smegma is widely believed to cause penile, cervical and prostate cancer. This nearly ubiquitous myth continues to permeate the medical literature despite a lack of valid supportive evidence.

Methods  A historical perspective of medical ideas pertaining to smegma is provided, and the original studies in both animals and humans are reanalysed using the appropriate statistical methods.

Results  Evidence supporting the role of smegma as a carcinogen is found wanting.

Conclusions  Assertions that smegma is carcinogenic cannot be justified on scientific grounds.

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