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The plight of nuns: hazards of nulliparity
Catholic nuns are committed to leading a celibate, spiritual life in a monastery or convent. In 1713, Italian physician Bernadino Ramazzini 1 noted that nuns had an extremely high incidence of that “accursed pest”, breast cancer. Today, the world's 94 790 nuns still pay a terrible price for their chastity because they have a greatly increased risk of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers: the hazards of their nulliparity.
Medical experts blast claim that nuns need contraception
An article claiming that nuns should use contraception to lower their risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancers drew criticism from medical professionals who say the study’s basis is seriously flawed.
Karen Brauer, president of Pharmacists for Life International, said the argument was so poorly made that she initially thought the article was a parody.
But Brauer pointed out that this claim is misleading, even according to the study on which the authors based their arguments.
Referencing a graph included in the article, she noted that before age 70, the nuns actually had a lower rate of death from uterine cancer than the control group. Their comparative rates of death from ovarian cancer fluctuated before age 80, being at times above, below and equal to that of the control group.
According to the study, breast cancer was the only one for which the nuns were consistently at higher risk than the control group of women, said Brauer. However, Britt and Short did not claim that the pill would reduce the risk of breast cancer, as they did for ovarian and uterine cancer, but simply that it would “not increase” the risk of breast cancer.
In addition, said Brauer, women who use oral contraceptives face “considerable” negative side effects. These include a significantly increased risk of deep venous thrombosis, which causes potentially life-threatening blood clots—a fact that Britt and Short acknowledged.
For these reasons, using the pill only to prevent disease “doesn’t make any sense,” she said.