Well, this is awkward. A group of anti-circumcision activists is following Oprah Winfrey across Canada to protest her endorsement of an anti-aging cream that was developed with skin cells harvested from baby foreskin.
The Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project (CAN-FAP), known as "intactivists," has gotten a lot of attention in recent months protesting Winfrey over the issue.
CAN-FAP, which opposes the circumcision of baby boys, says that a cream made by SkinMedica and endorsed by Winfrey, uses foreskin fibroblast — a piece of human skin used as a culture to grow other skin or cells.
According to SkinMedica, Winfrey has described the cream as “her magic fountain of youth.”
The product, called TNS Essential Serum, sells on the company’s website for $260 per ounce.
The Ottawa Citizen says that the company, which could not be reached for comment by the newspaper on Tuesday, has previously explained that it does not use baby foreskins in the production of the cream, and “has not since the original one was used to develop the line of cells nearly two decades ago.”
Why use baby foreskin to begin with? Apparently, any soft and new baby skin would have done the trick, but foreskins were the only samples available at that time.
Besides cosmetic uses of foreskin cells, Metro Vancouver noted that foreskin fibroblasts also have medical applications, such as re-growing skin for burn victims, and can easily be bought online for about $85 a piece.
CAN-FAP opposes routine infant circumcision because they believe it diminishes sexual enjoyment and violates children’s human rights.
Founder Glen Callender has said that the practice should be equated with female genital mutilation — which Winfrey obviously opposes — and argues that circumcising baby boys for routine medical and religious reasons are wrong.
The reasons that compel parents to choose to circumcise their newborn sons include evidence that male circumcision dramatically reduces the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, according to the World Health Organisation.
Still, the science and endorsements from Canadian and U.S. medical associations have been mixed, meaning the saga of the world’s most popular surgery goes on.
Meanwhile, CAN-FAP plans to keep following the Oprah show to Montreal on Thursday, and Hamilton, Ont., on Saturday.