Pharmacists’ Notice

Cervical cancer

At least 15 scientific papers since 1988 have reported on the increased incidence of cervical cancer in pill-users. The main results from these studies are:

  • Long-term use of more than 5 years was linked to a 100% increased risk of cervical cancer.
  • Duration of pill-use beyond 12 years had the highest increased risk of 340%. (Lancet, 1994)
  • Women starting the pill at an earlier age were at an increased risk compared to those starting later.
  • The pill may be a risk factor for all the early pre-cancerous stages, as well as invasive cancer.
  • For every 100,000 women aged 20-54 who had used the pill for 8 years, there were an additional 125 cases of cervical cancer. (Schlesselman JJ. Obstet Gynecol 1995).

Breast cancer

At least 28 major studies carried out over the last decade all reported an increased risk of breast cancer for pill users. The main results from these studies are these:

  • Women with the highest risk and/or incidence are pill-users under 20 years of age. Breast cancer risks for young women ranged from 40% to 480%. (Olsson, J National Can Instit 1989)
  • Women under 20-years old at first pill use had a risk of dying 820% higher than for healthy nonusers of the same age. (Olsson H, et al. Cancer Detection and Prevention 1991)
  • Early aged use of the pill caused larger tumours, and women had a worse chance of getting better.
  • The longer a young woman uses the pill, the greater her risk of breast cancer. (Rookus, Lancet 1994)

Blood clots and death due to the

The British Department of Health has recorded 50 deaths associated with the pill from Jan. 1994-Dec 1997. The following are the key features from these records.

  • Most of the women died from clots in the lungs.
  • The youngest victim was 16 years of age.
  • The oldest was 48 years.
  • The shortest duration of pill use associated with death was 5 days. This patient was 32 yrs old.
  • Fifteen women had been taking the pill for 4 months or less.

Because of these problems, 160 women now are suing the makers of one of the brands of the pill.

Higher than expected death rates due to blood clots caused by the pill have been reported in New Zealand (Lancet Vol 355 17th June 2000).

Other problems with the pill

  • The pill can make migraine worse.
  • The pill can cause depression. I know of one woman who attempted suicide due to pill-induced depression.
  • The pill can cause swollen sore breasts.
  • The pill can cause birth defects if you accidentally continue to take it whilst pregnant.
  • The pill can cause the abortion of an unborn human person via “changes in the endometrium (which reduce the likelihood of implantation).”. MIMS 2001
  • The pill can damage a woman’s fertility.

John Wilks B. Pharm M.P.S., M.A.C.C.P.
Member & Assistant Editor, MICROMEDEX International Editorial Board
Accredited member, Quality Care Pharmacy Program.