Lancet "Irresponsible" in Calling for More Contraceptives

Doctors Say Pills Shown to Cause Some Cancers

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By Jesús Colina



ROME, JAN. 28, 2008 (Zenit.org).- An editorial in The Lancet medical journal calling for an increase in availability of oral contraceptives does not take into account the pills' side effects, said the president of a Catholic medical association.

Dr. José-María Simón Castellví, president of the World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations, lamented the editorial as "definitively irresponsible."

Saturday's editorial called for oral contraceptives to be made available over the counter after a study by British researchers showed they were helpful in preventing ovarian cancer.

Simón Castellví notes a 2005 statement from the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer, which cautioned that oral contraceptives also have been shown to cause cancer.

"As a result of the side-effects -- cancer included -- of those drugs, we have to say that in this case The Lancet and the media reproducing its call have been definitively irresponsible," the statement said.

The federation of Catholic associations released a statement in 2005, following the World Health Organization investigation, underlining the study's results.

Oral contraceptives, according to the World Health Organization study, increase the risk of breast, cervix and liver cancer, the statement explained. On the contrary, the risks of endometrial and ovarian cancer are decreased in women who used combined oral contraceptives."

"The WHO experts call to a rigorous analysis to demonstrate what can be, at the end, the overall net public health outcome of the use of oral contraceptives," Gian Luigi Gigli, the then president of the federation, wrote in the 2005 statement.

The Catholic medical professionals said the WHO study shed light on the Church's teaching regarding contraception. They encouraged Catholic doctors to promote methods for natural family planning, including in affluent Western societies.