Is the contraception pill be causing prostate cancer

In the past 40 years the contraception pill has seen a significant increase in use. This has lead to claims that a great deal more oestrogen has come into the water supply. Canadian researchers have recently speculated that this could be a reason why prostate cancer around the world is increasing.

The research has suggested that levels of the hormone in the environment have gone up and it is well known that excessive oestrogen amounts can cause different types of cancer. Dr David Margel was the lead researcher on the study and he said, “The amount of oestrogen that women excrete is tiny but if you consider how long the hormone has had a chance to build up it could be considered a significant addition to the environment.”

The report has recently been published in BMJ Open. With his colleagues Dr Margel looked at data from The International Agency for Research on Cancer. They compare data looking at the number of people with prostate cancer and that the rates at which the oral contraceptive was being used.

Dr Margel continued, “It seems that the highest levels of association were seen in European countries and there appears to be a link between the use of contraceptives and prostate cancer. I want to clearly state that this is nothing more than a hypothesis generating study. We have done nothing to prove cause and effect.”

It is expected researchers will be shortly conducting tests on water as well as people suffering from prostate cancer. They will look for the amount of oestrogen that is in the system as well as in the water supply. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the developed world, and the developed world is a place where the use of the contraception pill is most widespread.

Anthony D’Amico is a prostate cancer expert and has commented about the study, “This is just a study of association and there is no proof of cause-and-effect, therefore there is no proof right now as to whether it’s true and it needs to be investigated further. The hypothesis they have generated is itself questionable. The levels of oestrogen in the water are incredibly low and then, once they’ve been consumed by a person, most of oestrogen would be absorbed by the body. Therefore exposure will actually be incredibly low.

“For there to be any link between prostate cancer and oestrogen levels in the water, the oestrogen levels would have to be incredibly high. There are also many other problems associated with high oestrogen levels, and prostate cancer is just one of these, heart attack is another possibility. For me to accept the study is rather challenging because prostate cancer is a very small part of it all and I don’t see any link between oestrogen in the water and heart attacks.”