Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Circumcision In 1908: Performed To Reduce Masterbation?

There has been recent debate over whether circumcision should be made mandatory as a way to prevent the spread of HIV, so I thought I would share the section on circumcision from the 1908 textbook, A Text-Book of Minor Surgery by Edward Milton Foote, MD.


This little operation can be performed in a number of ways.  The practice among the Hebrews when circumcision is performed as a religious rite is to draw the foreskin well forward, to cut it off with one stroke of a long knife, to immerse the penis in wine held in the mouth of the rabbi to stop the hemorrhage, and then to wrap it in linen rags.  It is not surprising that dangerous hemorrhage and infection sometimes follow this procedure, and a few lives have been lost in consequence.

Equally reprehensible is the practice among some surgeons of trying to perform this little operation in the shortest possible time.  For this purpose clamps have been devised to hold the foreskin so that both the external and reflected portions can be cut away by a single stroke of the knife.  It is obvious that the amount of skin thus removed cannot be controlled with certainty, and even if the line of incision be a perfectly smooth circular one, a thing which rarely happens, the adjustment in length of the external and internal portions of the prepuce is at best uncertain.  There is no part of the body concerning which most patients are more sensitive, so that the surgeon ought to be willing to give up a few minutes of his time in order to secure a perfect result. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

Will The CDC Recommend That All Boys Should Be Circumcised?

There appears to be some controversy brewing. The New York Times is reporting that the CDC may recommend just that in an effort to protect the boys against HIV as they become sexually active:

The topic is a delicate one that has already generated controversy, even though a formal draft of the proposed recommendations, due out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the end of the year, has yet to be released.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is currently neutral. As a result, many state Medicaid programs do not pay for the procedure. But it sounds like that may be changing, with a policy indicating circumcision has health benefits beyond HIV prevention.
And the Daily Dish reports that:
Hundreds of commenters wrote into the New York Times today to complain about “child abuse” and “genital mutilation” and one “religious sect’s agenda of control” (i.e. Jews).
I don’t see what the big deal is. Everyone seems to be piercing and tattooing their bodies these days. What’s wrong with a little circumcision?
Perhaps you could mandate the same kind of prevention that schools do with their vaccination requirements. What do you think? Should all boys be circumcised?

*This blog post was originally published at A Happy Hospitalist*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »

Commented - Most Popular Articles