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January 2014

Male Circumcision as a Religious Ritual

Author Affiliations
  • 1Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2Richmond University Medical Center, Staten Island, New York
  • 3Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(1):103. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.8367

Circumcision (from the Latin circumcidere, meaning “to cut around”) is the surgical removal of the penile foreskin or prepuce. Although the exact origin of this procedure is unknown, the earliest record of the practice comes from an Egyptian wall painting dating back to 2352 bc. Today, approximately one-third of the world’s male population is circumcised. Circumcision is most prevalent in the Middle East, United States, and parts of Africa and Southeast Asia, where it is predominantly performed as a religious ritual among followers of Judaism, Islam, Coptic Christianity, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.1,2

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