Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Recent controversy over the Pill

I'm copying this in entirety from Antonia because it's that good. Antonia's blog is invite only; all you have to do is email her your request to view.

Cos THAT makes sense! (..not!)

The Lancet is a well respected medical journal, and last week they had an editorial which was pretty crazy.

The editor called for an increase in the avaliability of the oral contraceptive pill, even to making it over-the-counter to all, because it reduces the risk of ovarian cancer.

Okay, so yes, it is true, the oral contraceptive pill does decrease the risk of ovarian (& endometrial) cancer. (but so does getting pregnant young and having lots of babies!)

But the pill INCREASES the risk of breast, cervical and a certain type of liver cancer!
This is a scientific fact, supported by the WHO and even acknowledge by the manufacturers of the pill themselves.

So what good is it going to do to encourage women to take a drug in order to reduce Cancer X, if this same drug increases the risk of Cancer A, B and C !

Okay, so you can argue that there are screening programme avaliable to try and detect breast and cervical cancer, but still! Better not to get them at all, than to rely on always detecting them early enough.

I mean, talk about being totally biased! Any excuse to get more people to use contraceptives, even blindly ignoring all the facts and only focuing on half the story!

The risks of cancer associated with using the pill are only tolerated by society and medicine because the pill is a contraceptive.
If something contracepts, then it is subject to signifcantly less scrutiny and objectivity than any other drug.
If there was a pain killer with those levels of cancer risks it would NEVER be used, let alone used by 2/3 of all woman. Yet the pill is given out like candy to women of all ages.

The president of the Catholic Medical Association wrote a response to this editorial in The Lancet and it's below if you'd like to read it.

Lancet "Irresponsible" in Calling for More Contraceptives
Doctors SayPills Shown to Cause Some Cancers

ROME, JAN. 28, 2008 (
An editorial inThe Lancet medical journal calling for an increase in availability of oral contraceptives does not take into account the pills' side effects, said the president of a Catholic medical association.

Dr. José-María Simón Castellví, president of the World Federation of theCatholic Medical Associations lamented the editorial as"definitively irresponsible.

"Saturday's editorial called for oral contraceptives to be made available over the counter after a study by British researchers showed they were helpful in preventing ovarian cancer.

Simón Castellví notes a 2005 statement
from the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer,
which cautioned that oral contraceptives also have been shown to cause cancer.

"As a result of the side-effects -- cancer included -- of those drugs,we have to say that in this case The Lancet and the media reproducingits call have been definitively irresponsible," the statement said.

The federation of Catholic associations released a statement in 2005, following the World Health Organization investigation, underlining the study's results. Oral contraceptives, according to the World Health Organization study, increase the risk of breast, cervix and liver cancer, the statement explained. On the contrary, the risks of endometrial and ovarian cancerare decreased in women who used combined oral contraceptives.

"The WHO experts call to a rigorous analysis to demonstrate what can be, at the end, the overall net public health outcome of the use of oral contraceptives," Gian Luigi Gigli, the then president of the federation,wrote in the 2005 statement. The Catholic medical professionals said the WHO study shed light on the Church's teaching regarding contraception. They encouraged Catholic doctors to promote methods for natural family planning, including inaffluent Western societies.


Jennifer F. said...

These are really good points. Thank you for sharing.

JRH said...

Thanks for sharing this. I knew a good portion but it's always good to hear the stats again... it seems like this issue comes up a lot at work and some coworkers (Catholic co-workers, in a CATHOLIC school) just don't see what the big deal is....

antonia said...