Nuns “should take the pill to cut cancer threat” – regardless of their celibacy vows
Researchers claim Catholic Church does not prevent the Pill being used for health reasons
Protection: Taking the contraceptive pill could reduce the risk of childless nuns developing cancer
Nuns should go on the Pill because it would protect them from cancer, according to researchers.
Like any other women who don’t have children, nuns are at an increased risk of dying from certain forms of the disease.
But the contraceptive Pill can cut the likelihood of developing breast, ovarian and womb cancer.
For this reason – regardless of their vows of celibacy – researchers in Australia say nuns should take the Pill.
Studies show overall death rates are 12 per cent lower in women who have used or are using the Pill, compared with those who never took it.
The risk of developing ovarian and womb cancers falls by 50 to 60 per cent in users, with the benefits lasting more than 20 years – and long after women stop taking it.
The Pill is believed to offer protection because women taking it are not producing eggs.
The process of egg release triggers cell damage and repair that raises the risk of tumour development.
Permissible: Researchers claim the Roman Catholic Church does not prevent the Pill being used for health reasons
Similarly, women who have children cease to produce eggs during pregnancy and often during breastfeeding.
DrKara Britt of Monash University, Melbourne, and Professor Roger Short of Melbourne University, argue that nuns are at increased risk of cancerthrough their celibate lifestyle, and deserve protection.
They claim the Roman Catholic Church’s own teaching does not prevent the Pill being used for health reasons.
They conclude: ‘The Catholic Church condemns all forms of contraception, as outlined by Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae in 1968.
Although Humanae Vitae never mentions nuns, they should be free to use the contraceptive Pill to protect against the hazards of nulliparity (not having children) since the document states that “the Church in no way regards as unlawful therapeutic means considered necessary to cure organic diseases, even though they also have a contraceptive effect”.
“If the Catholic Church could make the Pill freely available to all its nuns, it would reduce the risk of those accursed pests, cancer of the ovary and uterus, and give nuns’ plight the recognition it deserves.’
Research has shown that women using the Pill are at lower risk of getting any kind of cancer.
“They gain most protection at a time in life when they are at greatest risk – their 50s and 60s – because of the long-term preventive effect of oral contraception.
Astudy of the records of 46,000 women held by the Royal College of General Practitioners since 1968 found a 12 per cent lower risk of cancer among women who had used the Pill at some time during their lives.
It appears to cause ashort-term increase in breast and cervical cancer, but the risk revertswithin ten years of ceasing to use it to the same as a woman who has never taken it.
STRESS “RAISES RISK OF MISCARRYING BOYS”
Mothers-to-bewho are highly stressed in the later stages of pregnancy are more at risk of giving birth pre-term and miscarrying boys, say researchers.
A team investigated the effect of the stress caused by the 2005 Tarapaca earthquake in Chile on pregnant women.
ProfessorsFlorencia Torche and Karine Kleinhaus, of New York University, analysedthe birth certificates of all babies born in the country from 2004 to 2006.
Their research – published online today in the leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction – found that women who lived closest to the magnitude-7.9 earthquake and were in their second and third trimesters of pregnancy when it hit were at higher risk of delivering pre-term, before 37 weeks gestation.
Normally, about six in 100 women had a pre-term birth, but among those exposed to the earthquake in the final third of their pregnancy, this rose to more than nine in 100.
Usually, the ratio of male to female births is around 51:49. But the researchers found a 5.8 per cent decline in the ratio among mothers exposed in the final three months, meaning fewer boys than girls survived to delivery.
Previous research has suggested stressed women are more likely to miscarry boys than girls because they grow larger and require more sustenance from the mother.