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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Monday, March 8, 2010

B.C. Stands for: Birth Control or Breast Cancer?

B.C. Stands for: Birth Control or Breast Cancer?
Every year Loyola Marymount University’s International Journal The Truth About the Fact puts on a panel of speakers regarding various issues called: REAL TALK. This year’s panel is discussing WOMEN AND POWER. So although I am not going to talk about Women and Power, I decided to take from the concept of REAL TALK and write about a very real concern for WOMEN today. My topic may seem politically incorrect coming from a Catholic who attends a Jesuit University, however I feel that the Jesuit Philosophy as well as the Mission of it’s TRUTH journal is to discuss true issues, regardless of how hairy or uncomfortable the topic may be, God will half to forgive my blunt honesty.
For various medical reasons and also as a result of trying to maintain a healthy un-synthetic lifestyle, I have been trying to switch the form of birth control I use. After several miscommunications with my doctor and some very uncomfortable visits to various gynecologists, I chose to go to what I felt was a more reliable source for information on what to do concerning my situation and my options: my mother and my Aunt Doreen.
Upon discussing my situation my aunt asked me: what form of birth control are you on. So I responded with the name of the oral contraceptive I am taking.
She then asked,“How long have you been on that medication? Any doctor who has read your file should know your family history with cancer, do you put that on your forms?”
“I always put it on my forms”, I replied, “I’ve been on oral contraceptive for awhile, my pediatrician and my general practitioner both prescribed this B.C. to me, but what does taking birth control half to do with getting cancer?”
Her response held one of the single most horrifying pieces of information regarding my health I had ever heard.
“Girls who have a family history of cancer shouldn’t take any form of birth control with estrogen and sometimes other hormones because they increase your risk for getting cancer.”
A little background of my family medical history: both my grandmother and her sister were victims of breast cancer. Cancer has a tendency to run in family’s most, oftentimes the pattern being to skip a generation. Therefore my sister and I are genetically predisposed, and therefore have a greater likelihood of obtaining cancer one day.
Needless to say this news horrified me; next it enraged me. As you can tell from my last article I am a strong advocate against general practitioner’s negligence and malpractice towards their patients. To find out that once again my Doctor had misguided me didn’t give me the satisfaction of knowing I was right. Instead it incited in me the dread that I had been, unknown to me for the last several years, increasing my risk for getting cancer, several practitioners putting me at greater risk simply because they were too lazy to pick up my goddamn file and read it to properly to prescribe me medication.
Apparently Chris Kahlenborn, MD, of Atloona Hospital in Atloona, PA, agrees with my outrage at my physician’s failure to educate me saying to WEBMD,"I think women should know about this risk, and they are not being told," researcher Chris Kahlenborn, MD, of Altoona Hospital in Altoona, Pa., tells WebMD." Anyone who is prescribing oral contraceptives has a duty to tell women that 21 out of 23 studies showed an increased risk."
With teenage sexual activity starting at a younger age as well as girls who are prescribed oral contraceptives for various health reasons such as cysts, irregular period, or skin care are at risk of being mis-informed about the potential effects of the medication they are taking. Regardless of the reason for taking an oral contraceptive , all these women are now at risk of having their files, like mine, left unread or purposefully disregarded. The reason their files would be left un-reviewed on purpose is because alternative forms of birth control today such as, NUVA RING, IMPLANON and the IUD are also significantly cheaper. The products and their installation are (depending on your health insurance) around 100$ total and can last anywhere from 1 month to 5 years depending on the form. This is much cheaper than paying a flat rate of anywhere from 35-60$ a month for birth control, which is more economical for the common citizen. The threat alternative birth controls pose for doctors and gynecologists is this: that they are making significantly less money off of their patients, because for every prescription they write they get a cut or commission from that prescription. These alternative forms of birth control eliminate that revenue stream, so in order to keep their cash flow going, doctors recommend what will benefit themselves, NOT YOU.
Due to the blatant failure of the common doctor to educate their patients and practice good medicine, I have decided to take it upon myself to educate women on how the pill form of birth control containing estrogen and other hormones can put them at a higher risk for obtaining breast cancer.
I went to because I felt like an online medical journal/ website based on facilitating knowledge couldn’t mislead me the way a doctor’s self interest can. According to studies women who take an oral contraceptive before the birth of their first child are at greater risk of getting breast cancer than those who have taken birth control after the birth of a child.

“Based on these studies, the researchers concluded that taking oral contraceptives before a first full-term pregnancy increases premenopausal breast cancer risk by 44%, compared with women who have never used oral contraceptives. The increase in risk was 52% among women who took the pill for four years or more before having their first child.”
What’s even more frightening is that this is not a new discovery of a correlation between oral contraceptives and elevated number of people diagnosed with breast cancer. In fact studies tracing this correlation between oral contraceptive birth control and an increase in breast cancer spans back over the last 30 years, the study mentioned in the WEBMD article beginning before 1980. The results of these studies, which included premenopausal women, as well as women already diagnosed with breast cancer were, “When all the studies were combined, use of oral birth control was associated with a 19% overall increased risk of breast cancer diagnosed before menopause. The increase in risk more than doubling among women who took oral contraceptives before a first pregnancy.”
This means that a woman who has taken an oral contraceptive before their first pregnancy has a 38% risk of getting breast cancer. No woman should half to hear that as a result of a personal choice she made, which she was led to believe was safe by the doctor she trusted, that she has facilitated her diagnosis of cancer and possibly lose her life to it. No one should half to endure the possibility of losing their life based on negligent practices of good medicine.
I hope that this article has educated, and therefore prevented at least ONE woman from being put at greater risk to obtain breast cancer, because their physician may have failed to provide this life changing information. I hope ONE LESS woman may in 5, 10, or even 15 years from now, learn that she is cancer free as a result of the information I have presented here.
Written By: Christina Lo Duca


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo for writing about this. I have told my friends for years the reason why I choose not to use BC is because I am afraid of increasing my risks for breast cancer and they always laugh at me and say "if that is the case, then why do doctors prescribe it" they fail to understand that the birth control industry is a multi-million dollar industry and that gynecologists will lose money if a large percentage of women opted out of using oral hormonal contraceptives.

March 19, 2010 at 10:04 AM  

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