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November 15, 2011
Birth Control Pills Associated With Increased Prostate Cancer Risk in Men Worldwide

Adding to the list of ailments caused by contraceptive pills including cause heart disease, bone loss, memory loss, cancer and blood clots, new research shows they are also associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer around the globe, finds research published in BMJ Open.

Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in the developed world and the use of the contraceptive pill has soared over the past 40 years, say the authors.

There is a statistical relationship between the two trends, possibly driven by men's greater exposure to the oestrogen hormone contained in the Pill.

The research team used data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the United Nations World Contraceptive Use report to pinpoint rates of prostate cancer and associated deaths and the proportion of women using common methods of contraception for 2007.

They then analysed the data for individual nations and continents worldwide to see if there was any link between use of the contraceptive pill and illness and death caused by prostate cancer.

Their calculations showed that use of intrauterine devices, condoms, or other vaginal barriers was not associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Widespread use of the Pill has led to more of the hormone finding its way into the water supply and food chain, with implications for human health, says a study in BMJ Open.

Excess exposure to oestrogen is known to cause cancer and the study suggests that widespread use of the Pill has resulted in by-products called endocrine disruptors being deposited in the environment.

These do not break down easily in the body so can be passed into urine and end up in the water supply or the food chain, thus exposing the general population.

"Temporal increases in the incidence of certain cancers (breast, endometrial, thyroid, testis and prostate) in hormonally sensitive tissues in many parts of the industrialised world are often cited as evidence that widespread exposure of the general population to EDCs has had adverse impacts on human health," they write.


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