December 8, 2011
Birth Control Pill For Nuns Would Reduce Cancer Risks
A strong risk factor for cancer in women is childlessness, and a new study in The Lancet suggests that nuns be prescribed the contraceptive pill in hopes of reducing enhanced death rates of nuns from breast, ovarian and uterine cancer that result from their childlessness.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding a baby reduces the number of ovulatory cycles a woman has in her lifetime and an increased number of ovulatory cycles increases cancer risk. Women who begin their periods at an early age and hit menopause late also have a higher risk, reports Sarah Boseley, health editor for The Guardian.Nuns succumbing to cancer has been problem that has been recognized as far back as 1713 at least. Italian physician Bernadino Ramazzini reported nuns had extremely high rates of the “accursed pest,” breast cancer.
Overall mortality in women using the contraceptive pill is around 12 percent lower than in those who have never used it and the risk of developing ovarian and endometrial cancers falls by 50 to 60 percent, Reuters reports.
“If the Catholic Church could make the oral contraceptive pill freely available to all its nuns, it would reduce the risk of those accursed pests, cancer of the ovary and uterus, and give nuns´ plight the recognition it deserves,” the doctors said.
Dr. Kara Britt from Monash University, Melbourne and Prof. Roger Short from the University of Melbourne, wrote in a comment piece published on Thursday: “The Catholic church condemns all forms of contraception except abstinence, as outlined by Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae in 1968," reports Martin Beckford, religious affairs editor for The Telegraph.
“Although Humanae Vitae never mentions nuns, they should be free the use the contraceptive pill to protect against the hazards of nulliparity [never giving birth] since the document states that ℠the Church in no way regards as unlawful therapeutic means considered necessary to cure organic diseases, even though they also have a contraceptive effect´.
“If the Catholic church could make the contraceptive pill freely available to all its nuns, it would reduce the risk of those accursed pests, cancer of the ovary and uterus, and give nuns´ plight the recognition it deserves.”
The contraceptive pill appears to cause a short-term increase in breast and cervical cancer, but the risk reverts within ten years of ceasing to use it to the same as a woman who has never taken it reports Jenny Hope for the Daily Mail.
Women taking the pill can also risk blood clots with the combined oestrogen-progestogen version, so the suitability of nuns would have to be assessed according to their individual medical histories, the doctors added.
On the Net: