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.