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...