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Reliable Science on the Pill

Reliable Science on the Pill

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Published by CBCP for Life

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Published by: CBCP for Life on Dec 28, 2012
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01/13/2013

 
Reliable science on the pill
There are many conflicting researches being bandied around on the contraceptive pill, the center of theRH debate. In the midst of this, it should be clear that in any given question (is the pill unsafe or safe,abortifacient or not), only one side is true and the other false, since it is impossible for exactcontradictories to be both true.Due to the great emotions this topic engenders and the presence of ideologies, both secular andreligious, it is all the more necessary to adopt a calm and objective attitude. For this, we have to clarifythe relevant criteria to arrive at scientific truth and certainty, and if this is not possible, to arrive at themost reliable science on the contraceptive pill.We believe that given the enormity of the questions, research should offer (1) the latest findings,because a 1999 study can very well be overturned by a 2000 study, (2) the most comprehensive study,
with special emphasis on “meta
-
analysis” or a systematic and extensive review of c
urrent literature, and(3) the most authoritative and prestigious peer-reviewed journals and scientific experts, and (4) themost unbiased studies that are above the partisan ideological influence of pro-RH and anti-RH lobbyists.Thus for a serious national debate on scientific issues, we should not use sources such as blogs, pro-lifemagazines, pro-abortion websites, and we should use with discernment research that is directlyproduced by political, commercial, religious advocates. The only exception is when the conclusion of these groups run counter to their advocacies.We humbly offer what we believe are the latest, most comprehensive, most authoritative andprestigious, and most unbiased studies that we know. In this on-going debate, we would gladly be toldof new, additional data that outdo the reliability of these studies.
Cancer, stroke and heart attacks
A monograph released just last year (2011) by a working group under the WHO’s International Agency
for Research on Cancer (IARC) made an overall evaluation
that “oral combined estrogen–
progestogen
contraceptives are carcinogenic to humans.” The 2011 r
eport classified the pill as a Group 1 carcinogen,which means the highest level of evidence of cancer risk. It specified the types of cancer the pill causes:
“Oral combined estrogen–
progestogen contraceptives cause cancer of the breast, in-situ and invasivecancer of the uterine c
ervix, and cancer of the liver.”
 This is the third time the Lyon, France-based IARC evaluated the carcinogenicity of pills. The earliermonographs were published in 1989 and 2007. Summarizing its review, the 2011 IARC monograph said:
“There are increased risks for cancer of the breast in young women among current and recent users
only. This effect was noted particularly among women under 35 years of age at diagnosis who hadbegun using contraceptives when young (< 20 years), whereas the increased risk declined sharply with
older age at diagnosis..” (WHO
-IARC findings on Combined Estrogen-Progesterone Pills, retrieved from:monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol100A/mono100A-19.pdf)
 
On breast cancer, the Mayo Clinic, consistently considered as one of the best hospitals in the world,published in 2006, an article
entitled “Oral Contraceptive Use as a Risk Factor for Pre
-menopausalBreast Cancer: A Meta-analysis
.”
The meta-analysis, a study of world scientific literature on this issue,concluded that use of the pill is linked with statistically significant association with pre-menopausalbreast cancer. The association was 44% over baseline in women who have been pregnant and took thepill before their first pregnancy. (See sidebar for more data)In 2010, the
Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention
published a study which concluded that thecurrent use of the pill carries
“an excess risk of breast cancer". It also stated that "Previous studies
convincingly showed an increase in risk of breast cancer associated with current or recent use of oralcontraceptives from the 1960s to 1980s."On cervical cancer, a systematic review of literature of 2003 published at the
Lancet 
, one of the leadingmedical journals in the world,
stated: “
long duration use of hormonal contraceptives is associated withan increased risk of cervical cancer
”.
On heart attacks
 ,
a 2005 meta-analysis at
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
stated that
“a rigorou
s
meta
-
analysis of the literature suggests that current use of low-dose OCs significantly
increases the risk of both cardiac and vascular arterial events”.
On stroke, one of the lead scientific journals of the American Heart Association, precisely titled
Stroke
,
published a study in 2002 that concluded that indeed the pill confers “the risk of first
i
schemic stroke”.
 
Replies and counter-replies
To these findings a number of possible replies can be given.First, all medications have side-effects, even paracetamol. Our reply would be: Paracetamol is notusually taken everyday, but pill is. Also, the risk of the side effect should be proportionate to the reasonfor taking a medicine. In the case of contraceptives, there is no disease, since a child is not a disease.Moreover, the three side-effects which have strong empirical proof are not superficial side-effects butsome of the most common causes of death among Filipinos.A second possible reply: according to some studies, there is only a slight risk. Reply: We have to take
note of the actual words of the most reliable studies: “excess risk of breast cancer” and “significantlyincreases risk” of heart attacks. And if, for the sake of ar
gument, the risk were slight, cancer
 –
the big C--is no light matter.Thirdly, someone might say: government authorities prescribe them. Our reply: not all governmentorders are correct. They can also make mistakes, especially now when foreign governments and wealthyand powerful commercial lobbies are actively pushing for the RH Bill.A fourth reply would be that the pregnancy is a greater risk than cancer. On the contrary, the datumfrom the science shows pregnancy has a protective effect against breast cancer. The journal BreastCare: A Multidisciplinary Journal for Research, Diagnosis and Therapy published a study in 2009 that
showed that “A
meta-analysis of large Scandinavian epidemiological studies found that [women who
 
have never given birth] have a 30% increased risk compared with women who have had at least 1 full-term pregnancy. Additionally, an increasing protective effect was found with increasing number of full-term pregnancies. For each birth, the risk was reduced by about 7%
.”
 
Abortifacient effects 
Some people might still decide to take the pill or to prescribe it in the name of “helping the womanavoid an onerous pregnancy”.
However, another aspect has to be taken into account. A third partyoutside of the doctor and of the woman: the possible presence of a child.The question of whether the pill is abortifacient [induces abortion or a miscarriage]or not is of inestimable significance, because the value of a human being cannot be measured.But the first question is: When does a woman have a child, another human, in her womb? Based on themost authoritative and unbiased sources, the most reliable answer is: at fertilization, when the humanmale sperm unites with the human female egg. This conclusion
was the “overwhelming agreement in
 
countless scientific writings”, and of most authoritative experts, including scientists from Harvard
Medical School and the Mayo Clinic that were gathered together in the US Senate in 1983. It is aposition upheld in 2011by the Philippine Medical Association in their pro-RH but anti-contraceptive
statement, which they said, is “
founded strongly on the principle that
‘l
ife or conception begins atfertilization
”.
 
(bold letters in the original)Second question: Does the pill abort the human being at his or her embryonic stage? The answer is yes.Science has shown that t
he pill works to stop pregnancy by at least three ways: 1) to prevent thedischarge of female egg cells, a process called ovulation (no egg, no fertilization, no humanbeing) , 2) to change the cervical mucus which increases the difficulty of sperm entry into theuterus (no meeting of sperm and egg, no fertilization, no human being), and 3) cause changesin the lining of the uterus [called endometrium] that makes it hostile for the fertilized egg (the
human at the embryonic stage) to rest on the mother’s womb and obtain nutrition (no food,
death to a previously alive human being).
The third action, which was not widely known until recently, has been shown in many studies. The mostfamous of which is the study of Dr. Walter Larimore that was published in one of the scientific journalsof the American Medical Association in the year 2000. Dr. Larimore narrates:
I have prescribed ‘the Pill’
 since 1978. My wife and I used the Pill for years, having no moral concerns about it. Then, in 1995 myfriend
showed me a patient information brochure
that claimed the Pill had a post-fertilization effect[effect that could take place after conception] causing ". . . the unrecognized loss of preborn children."
its claims seemed to be outlandish, excessive, and inaccurate. So, I decided to begin a literature searchto disprove these claims to my partner, myself, and any patients who might ask about it.
” In the end, Dr.
Larimore found 94 studies that showed that the pill does indeed have a postfertilization effect. Fromthen on, he stopped prescribing the pill.Writing to the Inquirer in July 2011, Dr. Larimore and his co-author, Dr. Joseph Stanford, stressed that
this fact is now so well-established in medical literature that the United States Food and DrugAd
ministration says of the pill: ‘
Although the primary mechanism of action is inhibition of ovulation,
other alterations include… changes in the endometrium
[ lining for the uterus] which reduce the

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