Oral contraception is one of the most widely used form of birth control worldwide. In fact, an article published a little over 20 years ago in the popular magazine The Economist called the pill one of the inventions “that defined the 20th century.” Approximately 15% of American women ages 15 to 44 use some form of pharmaceutical-based contraceptive.
There is no doubt that oral contraceptives are convenient to use and can help prevent pregnancy. But according to the World Health Organization, they are also a known carcinogen that have been linked to breast cancer.
The Oral Contraceptive – Breast Cancer Link
Countless studies to date have made the link between oral contraceptives such as Ortho Evra (i.e. the “Patch”) or Depro-Provera injection (depo medroxyprogesterone or DMPA) and a raised risk of cervical, liver and breast cancer. The reason for such a direct correlation is because synthetic birth control is based on estrogen stimulation. The kinds of estrogen that oral contraceptives use act as “mitogens,” meaning that they stimulate the increase of tissue by being a catalyst for mitosis, or cell division. In addition, some of the metabolites found in estrogen can lead to DNA damage.
The most well-known published report to make a connection between synthetic birth control and cancer was a federal study commissioned in 2002 and conducted by the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). The study did not look directly at birth control, but at synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) which also utilizes synthetically-based estrogens as a replacement to a women’s own enteric production. After analyzing health data for over 150,000 U.S. women who were taking synthetic HRT, they found a direct link between it and certain kinds of cancer, including breast cancer. After the word got out about the WHI findings, millions of women stopped taking HRT and breast cancer incidents went down by 7 percent.
Other studies have found that progestin-containing synthetic birth control can increase the risk of breast cancer between 8 and 30 percent after four years of continuous use.
Other Risks Associated with Oral Contraceptives
In addition to the known connections to breast cancer, there are other health risks for those who use synthetic contraceptives. Here are just a few:
-Oral contraceptives have also long been associated with bone mineral density (BMD) loss. A 2004 study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas discovered that women who had Depo-Provera shots two years in a row had a BMD loss rate of about 6%.
-A 2010 study published in the journal Brain Research found that birth control pills may affect the neuroplasticity of a woman’s brain, leading to changes in higher-order cognitive activity.
-A 2006 Finnish study found that pregnant women who were on birth control for at least a year prior to getting pregnant gave birth to babies who were more prone to allergies;
-Finally, anecdotal as well as research-based evidence has found that long-term oral contraceptive use can lead to other symptoms such as blood clots, stroke, migraine, weight gain, increased rate of candida, mood changes, sexual dysfunction and irregular bleeding.
Preventing Cancer Means Reducing Your Toxic Load
We are exposed to so many toxins in our modern world, and an increasing number of xeno-estrogens, chemical substances that can mimic aggressive forms of estrogen in the body. For a person wanting to prevent cancer and live a radiant life, taking hormone-dependent birth control would not be the best choice. If you decide to use pharmaceuticals to potentially prevent pregnancy, however, be sure to stay away from the Patch and Depo-Provera, which has been shown in evidence-based studies to cause cancer. There are other ways to stay protected that are natural and side-effect free. Investigate the options on your own before you decide.