The contraceptive pill. The elixir of life? Some recent media reports would like us to believe so.
A study funded by the Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK and given Australian media airtime purports that long-term use of the contraceptive pill is in effect good for you and reduces the likelihood of ovarian and endometrial cancer, while it virtually dismisses the heightened risk of breast and cervical cancers.
Before women abandon their better judgement and rush out to acquire this supposed panacea, illuminating the contradictory evidence is necessary to obviate the danger of the unsuspecting heeding this cherry-picked research.
Professor Valerie Beral, lead author of the study, suggests that the earlier the adoption of and the longer the duration of using the pill, the greater the protection against these cancers, while the risk of breast and cervical cancer was slight and disappeared shortly after ceasing contraceptive use.
Professor Beral posited that the protection from endometrial cancer gained from using the contraceptive pill could last in excess of 30 years, even after ceasing use, and that for every five years the pill was used the risk of developing endometrial cancer dropped by 25 per cent.
However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organisation, has concluded that combined oestrogen-progestogen oral contraceptives and oestrogen-progestogen menopausal therapy are group 1 carcinogens to humans.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute cites its own 2003 study, from which it concludes that the birth control pill does increase breast cancer risk and the risk is greatest in young women who had used the pill within five years of the breast cancer diagnosis. This seems to fit with the fact that young women’s breast tissue is far more susceptible to carcinogens than those of women who have given birth, whose breast tissue has developed a much greater level of protection.
The New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 published a review article entitled “Estrogen carcinogenesis in breast cancer”. The authors conclude: “Studies of breast cancer have consistently found an increased risk associated with … the use of oral contraceptives.”
Later that year, Mayo Clinic Proceedings published an article stating: “Use of [oral contraceptives] is associated with an increased risk of premenopausal breast cancer, especially with use before first full-term pregnancy.” In fact, the article found that 21 of 23 studies on the link between oral contraceptives and breast cancer showed an increased risk.
A Fred Hutchinson Institute study in 2009 found that the risk of contracting triple negative breast cancer, one of the most lethal types, was multiplied 3.7 times by females using the pill before age 18 and multiplied 4.2 times for recent users.
Even Dr Anne Szarewski, clinical consultant at Cancer Research UK and a family planning doctor with a vested interest in maintaining the contraceptive culture, admitted that the jury was still out on the efficacy of cancer protection from the pill.
“I certainly hope that the claims are true, but it isn’t really possible that the pill is as protective as they are saying,” she said, adding that study subjects are usually healthier than the average population as doctors do not normally prescribe the pill to diabetic, obese or female smokers over the age of 35, thereby skewing the results.
What is definitely known is that side effects of the contraceptive pill include venous thromboembolism (leg and lung clots), stroke, heart attack, coronary artery disease, eye lesions, loss of vision, cancer of the reproductive organs, high blood pressure, depression, migraines, vomiting, abdominal cramps, bloating, gall bladder disease, ectopic pregnancy, fluid retention, nausea, precipitation of diabetes, adenomas, liver cancer, progression of breast cancer and acne.
The saddening thing is that the birth control pill is an avoidable risk factor in the acquisition of these conditions and yet no one seems to want to hear it.
In relation to ovarian cancer, it is maintained that the less a woman ovulates in her lifetime, the less likely she is to develop ovarian cancer. Pregnancy, breastfeeding or the contraceptive pill can lower the risk, while not having children increases the risk. So factors other than taking “the pill” are at play here.
Setting aside for a minute the moral aspect of using hormonal contraceptives that predominantly work as abortifacients (despite protestations from vested interest groups that they don’t), the purely emotional and physical health problems of contraceptive use have been well documented and to gloss over this does a disservice to women and society in general.
I read in the American Thinker that contraception is now so deeply embedded in Western culture that curtailing its use would be for many akin to withdrawing the air we breath. I think this explains the severe pushback against acceptance of adverse findings from usage of “the pill”.