Birth Control Archive

Birth Control Archive 2002

  • CLASS OF ESTROGENS LABELED CARCINOGENS – U.S. Upgrades Danger Posed by Element in Replacement Therapies, Contraceptives – All estrogens used in replacement therapies & contraceptives were listed by the federal gov’t as "known human carcinogens," a significant upgrading of the dangers they pose. However, government scientists said it is not known whether estrogens retain their cancer-causing potential when used in combination with other hormones, as they commonly are in hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives. Some estrogen compounds were previously listed by the National Inst of Environmental Health Sciences as likely to cause cancer in humans, but this listing of the entire class of steroidal estrogens was a broad expansion. "Based on our review of the literature, we have now put the entire class of steroidal estrogens in the category of greatest hazard," said Portier, director of the Environmental Toxicology Program for NIEHS. "For us, this is a big step." This summer, a large clinical trial of hormone replacement therapy in post-menopausal women by the Women’s Health Initiative was halted early when it showed an increased incidence of breast cancer and heart disease. Many women stopped taking the medications — which had been widely prescribed to prevent hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause, and to protect women against heart disease & osteoporosis. Another part of the study that followed women on estrogen therapy alone — generally women who have had mastectomies — was allowed to continue because the risk of cancer was not higher than expected. Portier said the new federal listing of estrogens was not based on that study, but rather on a review of the medical literature over the past two years. The official list of carcinogens is mandated by Congress and produced every two years. In all, 15 substances were added to the list of "known" or "reasonably anticipated" to pose a cancer risk, bringing the total to 228. Among them was methyleugenol, which occurs in spices such as ginger, nutmeg and basil, and is widespread in the food supply. Portier said the compound caused cancer in animals, and further study is needed to determine whether it poses any risk to humans. [By Marc Kaufman,12Dec02, www.washingtonpost. com/wpdyn/articles/A426532002Dec11.html ]
  • CONGRESSMEN REQUEST INVESTIGATION OF CONDOMS — 3 Congressmen have asked the US Gen Accounting Office (GAO) to order a review of all condoms purchased and distributed, either directly or indirectly through international or non-government agencies, by the US gov’t since 1989 to determine whether the condoms were coated with the spermicide nonoxynol-9, which increases the likelihood of HIV transmission. The Congressmen want to know: How many condoms containing nonoxynol-9 were purchased by our gov’t or with gov’t funding and whether such distribution is still ongoing; How many HIV infections may have been caused by those condoms; If any effort was made by the gov’t to “discourage the use and production of nonoxynol-9 coated contraceptives including condoms”. The overall percentage of condoms containing nonoxynol-9 sold in the USA and worldwide; and a complete listing of published studies on the substance and its effect on HIV transmission. “If the U.S. government made thousands, or even tens of thousands, of men and women more susceptible to acquiring [HIV], then we have done a huge disservice to people throughout the world. It is, therefore, critically important that a determination be made as to the numbers of people who may have been adversely affected and if this dangerous practice is still ongoing,” the Congressmen conclude. [HIV Update, 13Feb02; Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report 8Feb02; Abstinence Network, Spring02]

 

  • CONDOM LOBBY DRIVES AIDS DEBATE IN SPITE OF ABSTINENCE SUCCESS IN AFRICA – As AIDS sweeps across Africa, Uganda remains a lone success story, as millions of Ugandans have embraced traditional sexual morality, including sexual abstinence outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage. But the international AIDS community has been reluctant to promote this strategy elsewhere, continuing, instead, to place its faith in condoms. According to a USAID study of Uganda, “HIV prevalence peaked at around 15 percent in 1991, and had fallen to 5 percent as of 2001. This dramatic decline in prevalence is unique worldwide.” USAID believes “The most important determinant of the reduction in HIV incidence in Uganda appears to be a decrease in multiple sexual partnerships and networks.” In comparison to other African nations: “Ugandan males in 1995 were less likely to have ever had sex, more likely to be married and keep sex within the marriage, and less likely to have multiple partners…the effect of HIV prevention in Uganda (particularly partner reduction) during the past decade appears to have had a similar impact as a potential medical vaccine of 80 percent efficacy. A comprehensive behavior change-based strategy may be the most effective prevention approach.” “The HIV vaccine that no one wants – World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) came and went with barely any notice of the fact that a “vaccine” against HIV has been researched, tested and is available to save countless lives in Africa. It was first developed during the late 1980s in Uganda, where it has created the biggest drop in HIV prevalence in the world. It hasn’t yet been patented or advertised, but it has a name: abstinence and marital fidelity.
    “In the mid-1980s, when it became clear that AIDS was on the rise in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni essentially led a crusade against sex outside of marriage. According to a study of one Ugandan district, almost 60% of youths age 13-16 reported engaging in sexual activity in 1994, but by 2001, the number had plummeted to under 5%. Researcher Rand Stoneburner estimates that Uganda’s approach has been almost as effective as an HIV vaccine. Yet, the silence about Uganda has to do with the fact that the condom, that sacred totem of the AIDS establishment, didn’t initially play much of a role in Uganda. As late as 1995 — by which time HIV was already firmly on the decline — only 16% of Ugandan males reported ever using a condom. AIDS activists are not picketing int’l organizations, demanding that they spread the Uganda model, because they have a blind spot. For them, urging people not to have sex almost constitutes a human-rights violation.
    The researchers who have simply followed the Uganda data to its logical conclusion find themselves isolated in the AIDS world. ‘A lot of my colleagues get very wary at the sound of language urging behavioral changes,’ says one lonely expert, Harvard researcher Edward C Green. ‘It sounds judgmental, moralistic. But it’s hard to argue with success.’ Given the devastation in Botswana, where life expectancy is down from age 65 to less than 40, it is understandable to want to ‘try anything’. But it’s unforgivable
    not to try what has been proven to work.”

    However, the Ugandan experience is not being promoted elsewhere. In fact, as news of the Ugandan success has spread, the defense of condoms has grown more insistent. Specifically, international AIDS activists have increased their attacks on the Bush administration, which now seeks to incorporate abstinence training into the US international AIDS program. Promotion of condoms continues, despite the mounting evidence that they have failed to stem the spread of the disease. For instance, led by Nelson Mandela, South Africa has firmly embraced the “safe sex” strategy, and condom use has increased. But South Africa remains the world leader in AIDS infection, with 11.4% of its population currently infected. The international AIDS community appears determined to find a technological solution to the epidemic, rather than to suggest the types of behavior-change that have succeeded in Uganda. Mercury N
    ews of Mia
    mi
    reported that the Bill & Melinda Gates Fdn will spend $28 million to study the potential of birth control diaphragms to combat AIDS in Africa. Mercury News cautions, however, that “the scientific basis for diaphragms preventing AIDS is more theoretical than clinically proven.”
    To contact the Ugandan Ambassador to the UN and thank him for his country’s promotion of abstinence: Ambassador Semakula Kiwanuka, [email protected]. [FRIDAY FAX, C-Fam, 13Dec02; www.c-fam.org; http://www.townhall.com/columnists/richlowry/printrl20021206.shtml Rich Lowry, ed. National Review, 6Dec02 ]

 

  • THE PILL PUTS WOMEN AT MUCH HIGHER RISK OF HIV & OTHER STDS: HIV Infection 100 Times Greater in Mice Experiments – research has found that women using ‘contraceptive’ devices such as the birth control pill and Depo-Provera have a greatly increased risk of infection for HIV and other STDs. Researchers from McMaster Univ found that progesterone, which is used in abortifacients, impairs the immune system’s ability to fight viral infections. In a study with mice, the risk of HIV infection was 100 times greater in animals given progesterone than in those that did not receive the hormone. The study is to be published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in early 2003. [Dr. Charu Kaushic, a professor of pathology at McMaster, presented the findings at an international meeting of AIDS researchers in Toronto, organized by the Ontario HIV Treatment Network. Toronto Star, 28Nov02 Prithi Yelaja; LifeSiteNews.com; Pro-Life E-News Canada; nv, 29Nov02]

 

  • FDA FINDS DAY-AFTER CONTRACEPTIVE ADS INACCURATE – Charges Drug Marketing Message Overstates Effectiveness Period & Underplays Risk – Consumer-oriented radio/print ads for the day-after contraceptive, Plan B, are inaccurate & overstate its effectiveness period, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration letter to the product’s marketer. Plan B, which has been marketed since 1999 by Women’s Capital Corp., “can work as a contraceptive” if taken within 72 hours after intercourse. The FDA objected to the phrase in a Plan B 60-second radio ad saying both ads imply that the product is as effective 3 days after unprotected sex as it would be if used immediately, and thus does not communicate that “it must be used as soon as possible” for maximum “effectiveness”. The FDA also wrote that both the radio and print ads don’t communicate the drug’s risks with the same level of prominence as the potential benefits. Normally, when the FDA issues a letter of this type, a marketer is forced to pull an ad from circulation. But in this case, the advertising’s 10-week trial run on four radio stations in Seattle and in the Seattle Weekly had been completed with a budget of $167,000. Women’s Capital opted not to submit the ads to the FDA for review after the FDA said it would take up to three months to get a review committee together. The company had planned to launch the ads outside the Seattle test market in Los Angeles, but it found the ads did not provide a worthwhile return on investment to continue. “The really bad news is that we don’t appear to have really increased sales in any substantial way in the Seattle area,” Ms. Camp said. “Doctors don’t market Plan B. They don’t market emergency contraception.” Camp said Women’s Capital, which receives funding largely from nonprofit organizations and fdns, plans to file an application in February with the FDA to switch the product to over-the-counter use. The company hopes to turn its first profit in the second quarter of next year. Plan B can be obtained only by a doctor’s prescription (except in Alaska,
    CA, NM and WA where a person can obtain it from a specially trained pharmacist).
    [http://www.adage.com/news.cms?newsId=36659,27Nov02; WASHINGTON AdAge.com]
  • SEX 101: COLLEGE STUDENTS CASUAL ABOUT BEDFELLOWS & CONDOMS – over half of all US college students had “unprotected sex” during the past year, according to a recent poll (CollegeClub.com). In another online sex survey, 78% of the college-aged respondents said they had no problem getting intimate with someone outside a relationship. [Abstinence E-mail Update, 31Oct02] www.abstinence.net/ArticleDetail.cfm? Article384

 

 

 

  • “CONDOM FATIGUE” ON INCREASE – The condom faces “prevention fatigue,” or a general weariness of the safe-sex message. [Abstinence E-mail Update; 8Nov02] www.abstinence.net/ArticleDetail.cfm?.

 

  • DO WE REALLY WANT THE EUROPEAN MODEL? SURVEY OF SEXUAL ATTITUDES -British magazine Observer surveyed Britons about their sexual attitudes and behaviors and found that over half of the respondents have had a one night stand. [Abstinence E-mail Update, 31Oct02] http://www.abstinence.net/ArticleDetail.cfm?ArticleID=381.

 

  • COLLEGE CLINICS OFFER ‘MORNING-AFTER’ PILL – A survey of university-based health clinics in the US suggests that 50% offer emergency contraceptive pills to students. Universities that decline to offer emergency contraception often cited religious reasons, objections from school staff, fear of liability and the fact that students had not expressed the need for the treatment. Emergency contraception is also called the “morning-after” pill because women take it after unprotected sex. The treatment consists of higher-than-usual doses of ordinary oral contraceptives. The pills work by interrupting fertilization or by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Because of the latter effect, emergency contraception is controversial. The researcher found that 52% of the clinics participating in the study provided students with EC. Of those that offered the treatment, 60% said they publicized its availability to students through peer educators and brochures. McCarthy notes that more student health clinics in the Northeast provided EC, as opposed to the Midwest or South, and the bigger the school, the more likely it was to provide the treatment. Half of the clinics that provided the treatment said they had not been doing so for more than 5 years, and almost o
    ne third
    of the suppliers had only started in 1999, the year the surveys were conducted. Among clinics that declined to offer students emergency contraception, only 8% said they were considering changing the policy or planning to provide the treatment within the next year. However, more than 70% said that they refer students to other health centers that provide emergency contraception. [Journal of American College Health 2002;51:15-22; 2002-09-16 13:00:30 –0400; Reuters Health http://www.4woman.org/nwhic/News/2002/02sep17-3.htm]

 

 

  • A study in the late 90s in England by Professor Valerie Beral et al, studied 46,000 Pill users who were 25 years of age and older. Among Pill users, deaths from strokes were 90% higher than among non-users, deaths from cervical cancer 150% higher (connection with HPV, that causes cervical cancer), and deaths from clotting and cardiovascular disease more than 170 percent higher, depending on age and smoking status. the study concluded that when women get off the Pill, there was no “hangover” effect or greater risk of death 10 years or more later. The study did not deal with the long-term effects on teenaged girls who use the Pill before they are fully developed physically.  Worldwide, an estimated 100 million females use the Pill. About 8 percent, or about 11 million, are in the USA, and many of these women are teenagers. [HLI Special Report No. 175, July 1999]

 

  • BIRTH CONTROL PILL AND HEALTH INSURANCE – PRESSURE MOUNTS: 3 female Dow Jones employees filed discrimination charges because insurance coverage for contraception is not covered “as [it] is offered for other prescriptions & medical services.” [ALL communique; “Dow Jones charged in complaint to EEOC for discrimination in health insurance coverage,” Planned Parenthood of Western Washington, 5/8/02, http://www.covermypills.org/latest/index.asp?id=26] Declaration signed by hundreds of doctors affirming effect of the pill www.all.org/news/declife.htm]

 

  • NEW ZEALAND APPROVES ‘MATCHSTICK-SIZE’ CONTRACEPTIVE IMPLANT — Implanon, a one-inch plastic rod inserted by a doctor into a woman’s upper arm, releases progesterone, inhibiting pregnancy for up to three years or until the device is surgically removed. Once the ministry approves the labels, manufacturer Organon plans to apply for a subsidy on the contraceptive, which would cost approximately $130 without the subsidy. Implanon has been widely used by women in Europe and Australia since it was introduced four years ago in those areas. In clinical trials, Implanon had a 100% success rate, with no women becoming pregnant during the three-year period. Side effects of the contraceptive, which contains no estrogen, were irregular bleeding or amenorrhea (Betts, Dominion, 4/5; Kaiser Report, 8April02]