Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Does the Pill cause prostate cancer?

November 16th, 2011 by Laura Wershler

Of the growing list of reasons why women might want to reconsider using birth control pills, this could well be the strangest.

Researchers at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto published a study on Nov. 15  in the BMJ Open Journal in which they found a “strong correlation” between the use of birth control pills and the incidence of prostate cancer worldwide.

One of the possible explanations of how the two are related is the potential impact of the estrogen compound – ethinyloestradiol – that women using the pill secrete in their urine. It has been speculated elsewhere that these endocrine-disrupting substances could end up in our drinking water or get into the food chain.

The Pill, introduced in the 60’s, has been widely used for decades. The study suggests that exposure to these substances over 20 to 30 years could have a clinically significant effect. Researchers said further study of this link is needed.

In 2010 the media was full of stories marking the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill. The Pill at 50: Sex, Freedom and Paradox, rang the headline of a Time Magazine article by Nancy Gibbs. Could rising rates of prostate cancer be part of this paradox?

3 responses to “Does the Pill cause prostate cancer?”

  1. […] blogger Laura Wershler reported on Tuesday about the news that Canadian researchers have discovered a possib… — and it’s not what you […]

  2. Alana says:

    Correlation does not equal causation.

  3. Laura Wershler says:

    You are absolutely right. That’s why the researchers are right when they say this is an interesting observation worthy of further study. Thanks for commenting.

Readers should note that statements published in Menstruation Matters are those of individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Society as a whole.