By Jenn Giroux
CINCINNATI, Ohio, OCT. 29, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Everywhere I looked this month I saw a pink ribbon. It was on my dry cleaning bag, grocery bag, coffee cup, mail catalogs, receipts, billboards … it goes on and on. Don't get me wrong. I love the color pink, and breast cancer prevention and finding a cure is critical to women today. However, I also love the truth.
That is why October 2010 is a good time to take Breast Cancer Awareness Month to a whole new level with some facts which can lead to both the physical and spiritual health of women in America and across the world.
We live in the world of media messaging where the one with the most money and the loudest message wins the day. What is the "Race for the Cure"? Why are we not being told the truth about the real risks and prevention for breast cancer? According to the SEER data at the National Cancer Institute, there has been a 400% increase in noninvasive -- or "in situ" (in the same place) -- breast cancer in pre-menopausal women since 1975. How do abortion, hormone replacement therapy, and hormonal contraception factor into the equation?
For years, abortion, hormonal replacement therapy and hormonal contraception have been largely ignored by most of the medical community and the media in general as significant risk factors for breast cancer. However, studies have consistently concluded that breast cancer risk increases as a result of these three factors.
Researchers in Iran have published results of a new study showing that women who have had an abortion face a 193% increased risk of breast cancer. This has to do with the interruption of breast tissue development during pregnancy. It is important to note that this (and other studies like it) have nothing to do with a person's belief in abortion. It has everything to do with the scientifically undeniable development and growth of breast tissue within a woman's body. There are many other studies that have been published as well that confirm that abortion presents increased risk to women for breast cancer, and that confirm that carrying a baby to full term provides a natural protection to the mother if the pregnancy is not unnaturally interrupted.
For years, doctors have been prescribing hormone replacement therapy for women who experience hot flashes and periods of sweating in menopause. The widespread belief was that these hormones would not only reduce a woman's risk for heart disease but also keep her "youthful, sexy, and healthy." This week the New York Times reported that studies have now confirmed that taking these hormones not only increases breast cancer risk, but "also make it more likely that the cancer will be advanced and deadly" (New York Times, Oct. 19, 2010).
This revelation, finally being recognized by the mainstream medical community and media, makes our final topic on hormonal contraception downright frightening.
Obstetricians and gynecologists across the country freely encourage long-term use of hormonal contraception such as "the Pill," the intrauterine device (IUD) Mirena, NuvaRing, Yaz, Yasmin, and all forms of emergency contraception without giving adequate attention to the short- and long-term side effects. Pediatricians have also joined in on this by encouraging mothers to place their young daughters on "the Pill" to help with acne or to relieve monthly menstrual cramps. Recently, a college student shared with me that inside her dorm, cell phones go off in the early morning hours as a reminder to the girls to take their birth control pills. This was at a Catholic college.
The number of young women on "the Pill" is alarming. Have these girls been told that "the Pill" has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency on Research for Cancer, a research arm of the World Health Organization? Are women in general being informed that any form of hormonal (estrogen-progestin combination) birth control (including "the Pill," the patch, Depo-Provera, Norplant, Ortho Vera Patch, or any others on the market) are actually increasing risk for breast, cervical, and liver cancer?
The sad reality is that any woman who takes a hormonal contraceptive for four years prior to her first full-term pregnancy increases her risk for breast cancer by 52%. It is worth noting that this same research arm of the World Health Organization also places "the Pill" in the same category with asbestos and cigarettes.
The difference is the dose
So, you may ask, what is the difference between the hormones that are given to women during menopause, which cause deadly breast cancer, and the hormones that are given to young women in the form of "the Pill"? The answer is shocking. The hormones in the drugs are the same. The only difference is in the dose that is given to the younger women and girls. It is necessary to give a much higher dose than that given in hormone replacement therapy because younger women have active, healthy ovaries. Does this give better context to the 400% increase in "in situ" breast cancer in pre-menopausal women since 1975?
In order to silence the public discussion of the harms of contraception we have often been told that we are pushing our "Catholic" views on women. This has effectively kept many health care providers and pro-life groups silent on this issue. Do you know what has nothing to do with being Catholic? Experiencing breast cancer in your 30s, having a stroke in college, or having an undetected and sudden blood clot that results in permanent health damage or death are life-threatening side effects that visit women of all faiths.
Women deserve to know the truth. They have been failed by physicians in not being warned of the physical damage that they are doing to their bodies, and they have been failed by their priests in not being warned of the spiritual damage that they are doing to their souls.
The New York Times article on Oct. 19 published information by "The Journal of the American Medical Association" that is a real breakthrough and victory for women's health. The exposure of this important medical information further reveals the outrage against Komen affiliates who contributed a total of $3.3 million to Planned Parenthood programs from 2004-2009. Komen spokesman John Hammarley told The Daily Caller that in 2009, affliates gave Planned Parenthood $731,303.
This was money from trustful donors who were unaware that they, indeed, gave to a cause working against the cure of breast cancer. Clearly, both abortion and hormonal contraception, a huge source of Planned Parenthood's income, are contributing risk factors for breast cancer.
October 2010 is the time to recognize the seamless pink ribbon that connects breast cancer with abortion, hormonal contraception and hormone replacement therapy. It is only then that we can get on with true prevention and, God willing, finish the race for the truth, which will then pave the path for the cure.
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Jenn Giroux is the executive director of HLI America, a program of Human Life International. She is a registered nurse, wife, and mother of nine. She and her husband, Dan, live with their family in Cincinnati, Ohio. For more information go to hliamerica.org.