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Author Topic: Contraceptive pill linked to prostate cancer  (Read 2444 times)
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Francis Umeoguaju
Expert in Bioscience Issues
Posts: 657

« on: January 01, 2012, 07:04:48 am »

Widespread use of the contraceptive pill by women may increase the risk of prostate cancer in men. David Margel and Neil Fleshner at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, looked at levels of prostate cancer and contraceptive pill usage in 88 countries around the world. In every case, there was a significant correlation between the two.

The two researchers stress that the study simply found a correlation: exactly how female use of the pill causes prostate cancer in men is unclear.
Kate Holmes of the Prostate Cancer Charity made the same point to the BBC: "While this study raises some interesting questions about the presence of EDCs in the environment, it does not contribute to our overall understanding of the development of prostate cancer."

The new result should provoke others to look for likely mechanisms.
One hypothesis is that the level of pill use in a population gives an indication of the amount of sexual activity, which has previously been linked to prostate cancer  But Margel and Fleshner didn't find a correlation between prostate cancer and the use of other contraceptives such as condoms or vaginal barriers, which might also indicate levels of sexual activity.

The pair favours a different hypothesis. They think that the oestrogen-like chemicals which are by-products of metabolism of the pill pass into the urine and ultimately make their way into the water supply.
The chemicals present in oral contraceptives have been linked to the prostate before: in 2005 it was reported that oestrogen-like chemicals increased prostate deformities in mouse embryos, prompting fears that the same could occur in human embryos.
Environmental studies have found a link between oestrogenic insecticides and rates of prostate cancer  although others have failed to find this association.
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