Beware of the latest tactic by the doctors of death to convince women that using oral contraceptives is beneficial to their health. I was appalled to find a little blurb article in the July 23, 2010, issue of All You magazine entitled “Cut health risks with the pill.” The subtitle claimed, “Taking oral contraceptives not only protects you from unwanted pregnancy [as if we need protection from this dangerous disease], it can also have some surprising benefits.”
According to an article written by Dr. Eliza Buyers, a gynecologist in Denver, CO, (published recently in the British Medical Journal) the Pill
- May ward off cancer
- Builds strong bones
- May prolong your life
As you will see, these claims are dangerous half-truths based on skewed studies which, if taken at face value, could lead women to put themselves at undue risk for the very opposite of these statements.
First of all, the claim that taking the Pill may ward off cancer (particularly endometrial and ovarian cancers) is based on the assumption that the hormone progestin, found in oral contraceptives, may counteract the cancer-causing effects of its opposite hormone, estrogen. For instance, endometrial cancer most often occurs when the lining of the uterus thickens too much or too often because of an over abundance of estrogen. Progestin works to thin the lining, which would counter the effects of too much estrogen.
However, though there may be something to this, according to the National Cancer Institute, using the Pill also puts women at a substantial risk for both breast and liver cancers. It is counter productive to tell women they may ward off some types of cancer with oral contraceptives which would then put them at significant risk for developing others.
The second claim that taking the Pill helps build strong bones, particularly in post-menopausal women, may also have some truth to it. Ironically, however, a recent study published in the January 2010 issue of Contraception reveals that women 14-30 who take the more modern low-estrogen Pill are actually putting themselves at a higher likelihood of having osteoporosis in later years. The Pill given to post-menopausal women has a higher estrogen content which guards against bone loss and is being looked at as a substitute for hormone replacement therapy. First we are told in this article that taking a low-estrogen Pill guards against certain cancers, then we are told the same Pill puts younger women at higher risk for osteoporosis. Sounds like a lose-lose situation to me.
The last claim involves life expectancy. This one is especially alarming. Here is the exact quote from the All You article:
Women who take oral contraceptives live longer; plus, they are less likely to develop heart disease.
First of all, if the longevity claim is taken from the University of Aberdeen, UK, study released this past March, then to make such a blanket statement does not take into account all which the study revealed. In fact, this particular study found that younger women taking what is referred to as the “third generation” birth control Pill are “three times more likely to die from disease if they have ever taken the pill.”
I did a little research on the author of this BMJ article and discovered she is a well-known proponent of abortion rights and contraceptive use, especially targeting teen girls. It was no surprise to find that Dr. Buyers sits on the board of directors for the Denver ultra-feminist teen outreach program, Girls Incorporated of Metro Denver. Also, she sat on the committee of the October 10, 2009, Colorado Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Parenting and Prevention. And, at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, she sat shoulder to should with Cecile Richards (President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund) and Nancy Keenan (President NARAL Pro-Choice America) on a panel discussing Have “They” Gone Too Far? The medical and political implications of attacks on reproductive health care, including Colorado’s Amendment 48.
Dr. Buyers definitely has an agenda in writing this dangerously misleading article, and it has nothing to do with the health and well being of women. Please consider these things when you hear the notion that taking the Pill has some health benefits. Do your homework, ask questions, and don’t just “swallow it whole.”
 See these links for more information: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/oral-contraceptives; http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKIM05941720080220.
The Pill builds stronger bones : http://www.contraceptionjournal.org/article/S0010-7824%2809%2900346-1/abstract; http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/25/AR2010012503138.html
HRT study: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/137915.php
The Pill may prolong your life : http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62B01R20100312. See also: http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2010/03/does-the-pill-help-women-live.html. From the comments in this last article: “Since conditions concerning safety of childbirth varies so widely over time and by location, and the formulations of the pills have varied widely over 40 years, this study is rather meaningless. It is too bad that the majority of the adverse thrombotic [swelling leading to blood clot development] events occurring in those who use the birth control pill go unreported. I’m watching from my own pharmacy practice. Recall the HRT [hormone replacement therapy] studies? None of this really matters though, since we’re dealing with females, who generally accept a health-care status similar to that of livestock.” [Pharmer1]