The carcinogenicity of smegma: debunking a myth

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2006 Oct;20(9):1046-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2006.01653.x.


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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogens / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Smegma / metabolism*
  • Smegma / microbiology


  • Carcinogens