The Pill Causes Cancer. Really.

CBC’s Radio One show The Current is currently discussing the health hazards of the Pill. In case you didn’t already know, last year (July of 2005) the World Health Organization declared that oral contraceptives (aka the Pill) is a carcinogen. The pill causes cancer. Breast cancer. Cervical cancer. Liver cancer. (It has been shown to decrease endometrial and ovarian cancer.) The Canadian Cancer Society is currently reviewing its stance on the Pill.

Studies show that 85% of Canadian women have taken the Pill at one time or another.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women.

In 2006, an estimated 22,300 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 5,300 will die of it.

On average, 429 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every week.

On average, 102 Canadian women will die of breast cancer every week.

One in 9 women is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime. One in 27 will die of it.

(Stats courtesy of the Canadian Cancer Society)

I am one of the 85%. My personal experience with the Pill was relatively short-lived. My body did not like having artificial hormones introduced, and I ended up with a “reverse period”–I bled 3 weeks a month and had a week off. Ugh. And yes, I listened to my doctor’s advice and tried a number of different formulations. Low dose. Mini pill. Estrogen only. Progesterone only. Yadda, yadda, yadda. They all made me ill and I quit taking it. I’m glad of that now–I don’t need any more carcinogens floating around in my system.

It really makes me wonder if we (women) have been guinea pigs for the pharmaceutical industry. Remember, Big Pharma is only in it for the money, the way the tobacco industry is only in it for the money. I quit smoking (in part) by reminding myself that every cigarette I smoked was money in some tobacco company executives pocket. Every pill we take is also money in some pharmaceutical executive’s pocket. Obviously, we should take some drugs–they are important enough to our lives to be worth the risk of side effects. Just ask yourself is it worth it?

Is it worth it to be on the pill? Is it worth it to fool your body into thinking that it is pregnant and keep it that way for years and years? Is it worth it to have spontaneous unprotected sex and possibly expose yourself to HIV, syphilis, and other sexually-transmitted diseases? Is it worth it if you get breast cancer at the age of 35 (as a friend of mine did last fall) and have to cut off your breast to save your life?

Men, is it worth it to have the above happen to your girlfriend/wife/lover so you don’t have to wear a condom. Are you sure?

Cancer is a miserable way to die. My mother died of lung cancer that spread to her brain. She died on Christmas Day last year. As a friend in a similar situation put it:

It was obvious mom’s cancer was spreading to her brain, and we were dealing with both the strains on her physically, and a mental unraveling that would feel much like being with someone with advancing Alzheimer’s. Periods of lucidity would flicker in and out of times of complete dementia, anger and paranoia.

Are you sure it’s worth it?