The fact that campaigns promoting Breast Cancer Awareness Month have largely ignored the connection between contraception and breast cancer is prompting one doctor to challenge other medical professionals to speak up about the pill’s risk to women.
“How many hundreds of thousands of Filipina mothers have died because of cancers, stroke, hypertension, and diabetes triggered by oral contraceptive use?” asked Dr. Rene Bullecer, the Philippines country director of Human Life International (HLI), in a recent interview with CBCP for Life.
“I am challenging all doctors, nurses and midwives in this country, particularly those working in the government or NGOs who vigorously promote these products in their day-to-day campaign, and I dare them to speak up for the truth . . . and expose the hidden agenda of the multi-billion peso pill manufacturers at the expense of the health and lives of Filipino women,” Dr. Bullecer said.
Dr. Bullecer, who practices medicine in the Philippines and is a pro-life activist, said he was “shocked” by the lack of information being transmitted about the link between oral contraceptives and breast cancer.
“I was viewing a local TV program several nights ago where the guests — [including obstetricians] — discussed the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, how to avoid breast cancer and the contributory factors on how women may be afflicted with breast cancer. I was shocked that they never mentioned the role of oral contraceptives in triggering breast cancer,” said Dr. Bullecer. “One of the doctor-panelists even denied the pill-cancer connection.”
“As a doctor of medicine and a pro-life fighter, I cannot afford to just close my eyes and ears to the truth that the use of oral contraceptive pills, as well as Depo-Provera injectables, can cause cancer,” Dr. Bullecer said. “The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) declared on July 29, 2005 that ‘artificial contraceptives’ are ‘carcinogenic,’ on par with cigarettes and asbestos.”
HLI America (HLIA) National Director Arland K. Nichols and HLIA Fellow Dr. Denise Hunnell discussed the WHO data in a recent publication on the lack of information given to teenagers about contraception.
“[T]he World Health Organization has identified synthetic estrogen as a ‘Group 1 Carcinogen,’ which increases the risk for the most common and deadly cancers for women—most notably breast cancer, which accounts for 26% of cancers in women. Studies that show a heightened risk of breast cancer for users of oral contraception have been published in the most prestigious medical journals,” according to Nichols and Dr. Hunnell.
Additionally, “The National Cancer Institute emphasizes that contraception brings a risk of other cancers including cervical and liver cancer, and notes that teenagers constitute the group whose risk most increases with contraceptive use,” the authors said.
In October of 2006, four researchers, including Dr. Chris Kahlenborn, published a meta-analysis in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings on the subject of oral contraceptives and pre-menopausal breast cancer.
Dr. Kahlenborn and his colleagues state, “Use of oral contraceptives is associated with an increased risk of premenopausal breast cancer, especially with use before first full-term pregnancy in parous women.”
“After reviewing all of the world’s data, we found that 21 out of 23 studies showed an increased risk of developing invasive premenopausal breast cancer if women took oral contraceptives prior to the birth of their first child, which is when most women take them,” said Dr. Kahlenborn explaining the study earlier this year. “These women incurred a 44% increased risk, which rose to 52% if they took them for at least 4 years prior to the birth of their first child.”
In the United States, one of the most recognizable organizations promoting breast cancer awareness during October, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, has been tied to contraceptive promoter Planned Parenthood.
New figures from an American Life League study of Susan G. Komen affiliates’ federal forms 990 show 18 Komen affiliates gave $569,159 to Planned Parenthood in 2010, the latest year for which figures are available.
Though Komen admits on its website that “Women who are currently using—or have recently used—birth control pills appear to have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer,” they continue to give money to Planned Parenthood.
“I really pity our women,” said Dr. Bullecer. “For more than 40 years since the artificial family planning program started in 1967 [in the Philippines], women were never told about the horrible medical side-effects of these pills.”
“Who will speak for these helpless victims?”