Willful blindness on women’s cancers

Willful blindness on women’s cancers


As we were driving to and from the farmer’s market Saturday morning, all of the intersections in Salem were clogged with pink-shirted peddlers raising money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Melanie and I agreed that until the group —and other groups supporting research—was truly open to looking at all the possible sources of breast cancer, such as birth control pills, we weren't interested in giving them our money.

I’m not saying that I’m convinced that the Pill is the source of breast cancer. It’s much too complex for a layman like me to draw a conclusion like that. But it’s ideology, not science, that prevents organizations like Komen and the American Cancer Society and others from even being open to the possibility.

But even a cursory glance at the scientific data shows that something is up. Consider the Global Cancer Statistics, 2002 in “CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians”, published by the same American Cancer Society. Look at the incidence of breast cancer across the various regions of the world. North America is number one with 99.5 per 100,000 women, while Middle Africa is lowest. The most developed countries are all grouped at the top of the chart, while the least developed are at the bottom. The same goes for ovarian cancer, with almost the exact same chart. Why?

There could be many factors, including diet, exposure to chemicals prevalent in First World consumer goods, etc. But consider that 22.9 percent of all women in the US 15-44 years old use a form of chemical contraception, (PDF from the Centers for Disease Control’s National Survey of Family Growth; see Table 56, “Number of women 15–44 years of age and percent distribution by current contraceptive status and method, according to age at interview: United States, 2002”). Another 16.7 percent seek surgical sterilization. In what ways do these artificial frustrations of the body’s natural systems contribute to cancer in a part of the body intimately associated with the reproductive process?

(Incidentally, I’ve found a number of online sources that claim 80 to 90 percent of women 15-44 use contraception, which is only true if you include all forms of regulating births, even natural family planning! This “90-percent” is used to push young women into accepting prescriptions for the Pill, convincing them that “everyone’s doing it” and that it’s completely normal and safe. I’ve known young, faithful Catholic women who were convinced by their doctors to take the Pill to regulate and suppress their periods. Anything to get them on the Pill.)

The fact is that while liberals have blasted conservatives for introducing ideology into vital health education with regard to abstinence-only sex education, it is liberals who have put ideology ahead of science in cancer prevention and research. God forbid that one should suggest that perhaps unfettered sexual license does have consequences. For too many of them the Pill represents freedom from male oppression, freedom to emulate the worst impulses of the male psyche. Well, that “freedom” comes with a price.


  • According to Life Decisions International, Komen AND American Cancer Society both donate money to Planned Parenthood.

    So they are basically funding an organization whose actions have a good chance of leading to the cancers they purport to fight.  What’s up with THAT?

  • My mother is currently struggling with terminal breast cancer.  Despite the fact that neither she nor my father ever used artificial contraception (smoking in her younger years is a suspected contributor), I won’t buy into the ribbon-wearing fraud for exactly the reasons Dom cites.  Note how the focus is always on the “Race For the Cure”, or otherwise focusing on treatment for breast cancer once it’s diagnosed, rather than preventing it in the first place, which is a richer vein to be mined, but one that’s much harder ideologically for the ribbon warriors to advocate.  There they’d have to confront realities like, as Dom notes, the dangers of the Pill, but also such preventive factors as breastfeeding and childbearing at an earlier age. 

    Also, if it’s ideological hypocrisy one seeks, look no further than the organic food Nazis.  You’ll know them as the folks who seek to shove the no-chemicals-ever doctrine down all of our throats, yet who are strikingly silent on the topic of synthetic contraceptives that cause havoc with not only human reproductive systems, but also with those of animal species exposed to these chemicals as they are flushed into the ecosystem.  I’m still waiting for a soul-searching series of articles in the NYT that features interview with some brave souls in the green movement who eschew artificial contraception for this reason, just as Greenpeace has softened on nuclear energy.  Can anyone shorten my wait?

  • Actually, some of the women’s health/natural stuff people _are_ starting to point the finger at birth control pills. “Hormone imbalance”, vitamin deficiencies, and similar buzzwords are being voiced.

    Even if one suspects them of wanting to peddle their own “natural remedies” and vitamins instead, I think this is a good sign.

    womentowomen.com is a pretty thorough example of this.

  • I just heard an advertisement for a type of birth control that suppresses women’s periods for months.  The announcer proudly proclaimed that you can only have four periods a year!  Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, HOW can anyone think it’s okay to toy with the body’s chemistry like that??!

  • DH, neurologist, goes bonkers at the mention of OCP use.  He can’t comment on causing cancer, but just get him going on neurologic effects.  On a monthly basis, he sees women whose headache/migraine symptoms correlate to OCP use.  On a more occasional basis, he sees strokes and other more severe effects.  And his primary practice is dementias!  The affected women are patients he sees in a 4-day-per-month second job (pays the student loans).

    For more effects of estrogens, look for the results of the Women’s Health Initiative… not exactly a prolife study, but rich in data on this topic.