Should nuns be permitted to take birth control pills?

It’s about their health not their lifestyle.

A commentary in The Lancet this week suggestss that Roman Catholic nuns be allowed to take oral contraceptives supposedly because they are at higher risk of certain cancers (breast, cervical and ovarian) due to their nulliparity (no children).

But this recommendation is largely based on a single 1969 epidemiologic study of data on the mortality experience of 31,658 nuns during 1900-1954.

Aside from this study’s unimpressive (i.e., weak association) epidemiologic results, its data are rather, well, dated and of uncertain reliability and relevance to the modern era.

Given that nuns may very well live, on average, 6 years longer than non-nuns, and that oral contraceptives have their own set of health risks, it would seem to be rather dodgy to blithely suggest changes where none may be needed, much less invited.

We are also concerned that the data suggesting that oral contraceptives reduces cancer risk are suspect. Once again the statistical correlations are weak and oral contraceptives are politically correct — the classic junk science combination.

Before recommending that nuns take oral contraceptives for health reasons, at the very least, it would seem to make sense that a study based on recent nun health experience be conducted.

Click to read the Lancet commentary.

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3 responses to “Should nuns be permitted to take birth control pills?

  1. I am a Catholic. I am at the age of menopause. Oral contraceptives do not reduce the risk of cancer. In fact they increase the risk of breast cancer.

    When I was younger I had certain symptoms that were supposed to be fixed by using weak oral contraceptives. The fact is that they caused headaches and I stopeed taking them as a result.

    Since I am in menopause you would think that I was taking HRT. Wrong. I took something for a while which I knew was not the usual form of HRT. I have also used something to help my estrogen in the form of a pessary.

    There is evidence that use of the pill cause breast cancer because it plays with the hormones. There is also evidence that points to HRT causing breast cancer in women who have reached menopause.

    Need I say more? It is far better that the nuns do not take contraceptives for any reason since the effect is to create havoc with a woman’s hormonal system.

    There needs to be a lot more research on the subject, and in my view women are far better off by not taking contraceptives under any circumstances. There are a lot of risks that should not be overlooked.

  2. Let them use the ‘northern woman’ (notre dame) just like the priests.

  3. They absolutely should be able to..
    Ofc there are health risks, but there are health risks with all kinds of medicine even cold medicine.
    You just have to figure out for yourself whether it is worth it or not. But not even giving them the option..

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