Birth Control Pill Shown to be Carcinogen

The WHO has declared the Pill a carcinogen.

The WHO has declared the Pill a carcinogen.

(Sept. 8, 2010) The following is an excerpt from a column by Michael Manhart, from the September - October 2010 issue of “Family Foundations,” the publication of the Couple to Couple League International (CCL). Manhart is CCL’s executive director.

In 2005 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (a technical arm of the World Health Organization) declared the combined oral contraceptive (the most commonly used form of the Pill) a carcinogen due to its documented negative effects on the risks of breast, cervical, and liver cancers. Overall, women on the Pill are at about a 24 percent increased risk of breast cancer. For women who use the Pill for four years or longer prior to their first full-term pregnancy, the risk is 52 percent higher than women not on the Pill. (1) Is anyone telling young women this when they fill their prescriptions? (For perspective, the drug Vioxx was pulled from the market when it was shown to increase overall risk of cardiovascular problems by 59 percent. (2))

A recent study from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center concluded that women younger than 45 who are using oral contraceptives are at a 2.5-fold higher risk for triple negative breast cancer (this type represents about 10 percent of all breast cancer cases and generally has a bad prognosis for long term outcome). (3) The study also found those who started taking oral contraceptives before age 18 were at a 1.9-fold increased risk for any type of breast cancer. Would mothers allow their teen daughters to use the Pill to treat acne if they knew this?

A 2009 study from the Mayo Clinic (4) examined the risk of smoking on breast cancer. Expectedly, the survey found smoking increased breast cancer risk by 25 percent. The same study observed, however, that women who had been using oral contraceptives for 11 years or more, more than doubled their risk of breast cancer.

Finally, a study published in January reported declining breast cancer rates in California teachers aged 50 and older. Invasive breast cancers declined 24 percent between the survey windows of 2000-2002 and 2003-2005.(5) Why the decline? This correlated with a 64 percent decline in the use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Importantly, the rates of in situ cancer (those not impacted by hormones) remained constant throughout this window as did overall breast cancer rates among those women who never used HRT. This confirmed an earlier study using U.S. cancer statistics showing declining rates of breast cancer between 2001 and 2004 but only among women older than 50. (6) So in older women we have now clearly established that if you take away the carcinogen, breast cancer declines. How many women might reconsider long-term use of the Pill (which contains the same artificial hormones as HRT) if this was made clear to them?

When more people start talking openly about all of the facts about oral contraceptives, we just might see a change in attitude. During the same 50-year span in which the Pill came to be seen as a near panacea, cigarette smoking has gone from being seen as an integral part of the glamorous lifestyle to a dangerous habit with all kinds of legislation restricting its use. Let us pray that it won’t take nearly as many years, tragic health consequences, lives lost, and lawsuits before society wakes up and says no to the Pill.


  1. Kahlenborn et al., Mayo Clin. Proc 2006; 81(10):1290-1302
  2. Graham et al., Lancet 2005;365:475-481
  3. Dolle et al., Cancer Epid. Bio Prev. 2009; 18(4):1157-1166
  4. Croghan et al., Breast Jl 2009;15(5):489-495
  5. Marshall et al., Breast Cancer Res. 2010;12:R4
  6. Ravdin et al., NEJM 2007; 356:1670-1674

Natural Family Planning Classes Taught

Classes in Natural Family Planning are taught in 17 locations in the Chicago metro area, including southeast Wisconsin and northeast Indiana. The next series of classes will begin Friday, Sept. 10, 2010, at 7:00 p.m., in Elk Grove Village, taught by Steve & Sheila Nalywajko, 847-290-1206. Classes will also begin Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010, at Resurrection Hospital in Chicago, taught by Dave & Mona Cattapan 847-437-3136.

To register, and for a list of classes throughout the U.S., go to the CCL Central class locator. (800) 745-8252. For information on the Chicago chapter of CCL, go to the Classes by Location/Maplinks.

The method taught is the Sympto-Thermal Method, which is also taught via CylePRO software. Sign up for a membership with the Couple to Couple League International at, and receive “Family Foundations.”