Men who undergo circumcision before they first have sexual intercourse are at reduced risk of prostate cancer than men who are circumcised later or not at all. That’s according to research published Monday in the American Cancer Society’s journal Cancer.

The research aimed to determine whether what looks on paper like a logical connection might hold up in real life. Circumcision has been associated with reduced risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, they note, and sexually transmitted infections have been linked to increased risk of prostate cancer. So, they figured, perhaps circumcision might indirectly lower risk of prostate cancer.

Analyzing data for about 3,400 men from two separate, existing studies, the authors found that circumcision before the date of a man’s first sexual intercourse was associated with an overall 15-percent reduction in prostate-cancer risk.

The authors note that infection might contribute to increased cancer risk by causing cells to mutate into different kinds of cells. Perhaps more important, infection can spur inflammation, which may set the stage for cancer to develop.

The authors stress that more research is needed before it’s appropriate to recommend circumcision as a means of lowering risk of prostate cancer.