Thursday, October 27, 2011

Analysis of a rather odd paper on cancer of the penis

Yesterday a Tweet by @DrVes caught my attention. It was a link to an abstract of a paper, published ahead of print in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, entitled “Sex with Animals (SWA): Behavioral Characteristics and Possible Association with Penile Cancer. A Multicenter Study.” Subjects were interviewed and completed questionnaires about their sexual experiences. The paper is from the Department of Pelvic Surgery, Hospital A.C. Camargo, São Paulo, Brazil and has 20 authors. I will leave the fascinating subject of multiple authors and what 20 people could have done to meaningfully contribute to the authorship of any paper for another time.

Instead, let’s focus on the findings of this study. I was unable to obtain a full text version of the paper but in this case, the abstract may be enough. The paper concerns the difference between men with and without penile cancer.

The abstract states, “SWA [sex with animals] was reported by 171 (34.8%) subjects, 44.9% of PC [penile cancer] patients and 31.6% of controls (P<0.008).” I know economic issues exist in Brazil and times may be bad. But ONE-THIRD of the nearly 500 men questioned HAD SEX WITH ANIMALS! And that represents just the ones who admitted it.

There is more. From the abstract: “SWA with a group of men was reported by 29.8% of subjects and SWA alone was reported by 70.2%. Several animals were used by 62% of subjects, and 38% always used the same animal. The frequency of SWA included single (14%), weekly or more (39.5%), and monthly episodes (15%).” It is not clear why the frequency numbers do not add up to 100%.

That SWA is a risk factor for penile cancer was confirmed on multivariate analysis.

Not to downplay the seriousness of penile cancer, but I think we have even bigger problems in Brazil. One, having lived exclusively in the USA, I may be naïve but one-third of men admitting to having sex with animals seems quite high to me. Two, what about the fact that 30% of the sexual activity with animals involved groups of men? Could it be that the animals are not always willing participants? Three, almost 40% had sex with animals on a “weekly or more” basis. Four, what about the integrity of these men? Only 38% were faithful to their animal partners.

I wish to thank the authors for sharing this with us. I look forward to their next study.


Ken & Carol said...

I hope this entry is not a tryout for the Onion. On the reasonable chance that it is not, my first question is "How were the men selected or recruited? I can guess how the subjects were enrolled but am not sure about the controls. So I question almost all the percentages.

Still, it does raise some questions about the men of Brazil and the animals too I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the women of Brazil should forget about Brazilian waxes & instead focus on growing fur!!

Scott M said...

Based on all the jokes about sheep I've ever heard, I would have expected these numbers from Scotland or New Zealand.

Skeptical Scalpel said...


As someone tweeted, "I'm not taking my dog to Brazil."

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