Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Women and the Pill

Margaret Wente wrote an article in the Globe and Mail called "Drop the Paternalism and sell the Pill over the counter".
Yet after decades on the market, the Pill has been declared so safe that you can get it over the counter in Mexico and other countries. So why not in the United States and Canada? “Extortion,” says Ms. Postrel. For pharmaceutical companies, over-the-counter approval would be costly. Doctors would lose patients. Pharmacists would lose dispensing fees.
- The Globe

As Andrea Mrozek rightly asks if ignorance is bliss, should you really be writing columns?

Andrea wrote an article published in the Ottawa Citizen in 2010 on this very issue. I guess Margaret Wente didn't read it or anything contrary to her opinion for that matter.

Welcome to the world of Do It Yourself Doctoring. Recent reports indicate that the birth control pill may become available in the United States without a prescription. Proponents will claim this makes women's lives healthier and easier. Nothing could be further from the truth. The pill is not Tylenol or cough medication. Certainly it's widely used. However, forever downplayed are the nasty and known side effects: There's the risk of blood clots leading to stroke. There's mood swings. There's increased risk of cervical cancer, (alongside the highly touted effect of decreasing the risk of ovarian cancer). There's a 44-per-cent increased risk of developing breast cancer for young women prior to having children, a finding published in the Mayo Clinic journal in 2006. Anecdotal evidence has some women feeling permanently nauseous, others get depressed. Still others say they lose, wait for the irony, the desire to have sex.

... let's compare and contrast: Condoms are not ingested and they don't contain synthetic hormones. They don't need to be taken at a particular time of day and won't have their use continued even when there's no sexual activity. They don't change the makeup of a man's body or alter the release of sperm. The World Health Organization did not classify condoms as a known carcinogen. (Yes, you read that right. WHO classified the pill as a carcinogen in 2005.) Virtually all men will acknowledge they'd never stand to take something as body altering as the pill. Not so with women: The late Barbara Seaman, an investigative journalist, wrote a book about treating women with hormones called The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women. - Ottawa Citizen

Last year, an acquaintance of mine confided to me that she had undergone treatment for aggressive breast cancer, having had a mastectomy, radiation and chemo therapy. She was 42 at the time. She was told by medical personnel that the number one contributing factor in her cancer was the early and prolonged used of oral contraceptives. This is not easy information to hear and she was angry. Angry that she had not been told of the risks, angry that her doctor continued to prescribe the pill, angry that she had put off pregnancy for so many years. Pregnancy and breast feeding are the best defenses against breast cancer; why wasn't she told?

I think there will be many more women like my friend in the future; once women realise that oral contraception interferes with a perfectly healthy system, they will soon make the connection that you can't do that without some consequences.

For more information on the pill and its connection to breast cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Institute. Founded by Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, a breast surgeon in Massachusetts, its aim is to truly inform women about their breast health. Perhaps Margaret Wente should read check out their information before pumping out an off-the-top-of-her-head column.

h/t ProWomanProLife

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