Oral Contraceptives in Drinking Water Contribute to Prostate Cancer

A new study suggests that oral contraceptives contribute to prostate cancer for those people living downstream.  Birth control pills contain the female hormone estrogen, and in recent years, some experts have raised concerns about the presence of estrogen and similar compounds in foods and the water supply.

“Several studies now have found an association between estrogen exposure and prostate cancer,” said study researcher Dr. David Margel, a uro-oncology fellow at the University of Toronto. In this case, he said, “We think this is environmental —[estrogen] goes into the water, into our food chain.”

From pill to prostate

Birth control pills often contain a type of estrogen called ethinyloestradiol, which women taking the pills excrete in their urine. The hormone ends up in the water supply, or is taken up by plants or animals that use the water, and then passed up the food chain, according to the study.

Margel and his colleague, Dr. Neil Fleshner, looked at prostate cancer mortality and contraceptive use in 88 countries for their analysis.

In addition to looking at oral contraceptive use, they examined use of intrauterine devices, condoms and other vaginal barriers, but found no association between those and prostate cancer death rates.

“Although the amount [of estrogen] one woman would secrete is minimal, when millions of women take it for a long period of time, it may have an environmental effect,” said Margel.

Previous studies have linked estrogen and similar compounds to prostate cancer and other health issues, because of the way these compounds signal cells in the body. Perhaps the most prominent example is bisphenol A (BPA), a compound that mimics estrogen, which is proving to be harmful to health.

Margel and his colleagues are planning to examine tissue and fat samples, as well as the water supplies, to see if their hypothesis holds up.

Differences in lifestyles and medical care

The authors are not alone in saying proving the link between birth control and prostate cancer has a long way to go.

“Concerns have previously been raised about the environmental and health effects of endocrine disruptive compounds, including estrogens from oral contraceptives,” said Eric Jacobs, strategic director of pharmacoepidemiology at the American Cancer Society.

The study will be published online tomorrow (Nov. 15) in the journal BMJ Open, published by the British Medical Journal.

Pass it on: Estrogen from birth control pills that seeps into waterways and the food chain may be linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer, though further research is needed to firm up the link.

This story was provided by MyHealthNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience. 

If your water source is a river and there are cities upstream of you then you will have an array of unregulated contaminants in your drinking water.  That means you will also have contraceptives.  In this case I urge you to use my custom reverse osmosis system for your drinking water. The best way to remove unregulated contaminants from drinking water is to use reverse osmosis. Read my article which compares the benefit of drinking water containing natural minerals versus the dangers of these unregulated contaminants here: Minerals in Water
To your health!


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About James McMahon

Studied ecology at the University of Illinois, mountain survival at Eastern Washing University, Deep Ecology at Naropa, River Ecology with The Nature Conservancy and Luna Leopold
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