Researchers: nuns should take the pill to cut cancer risk

Really?

Strange as it sounds, yes:

Catholic nuns take a vow of chastity, so you might not think that any sister would need to be on birth control.

But oral contraceptive pills have other uses besides preventing pregnancy; in fact, Catholic bioethicists say there is no inherent conflict in nuns (or any other Catholic) taking these very same substances for prescribed, therapeutic reasons, such as for treating heavy menstrual bleeding or endometriosis.

A new article in the journal The Lancet goes one step further. It argues that nuns “should be free to use the contraceptive pill to protect against the hazards of nulliparity” – that is, heightened cancer risk among women who do not bear children.

According to the authors, Australian researchers Kara Britt and Roger Short, there are about 95,000 nuns in the world, and they are paying “a terrible price for their chastity”: increased risks of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer.

Women who don’t ever get pregnant have more ovulatory menstrual cycles, which have been linked to cancer risk, than those who do get pregnant. Research has shown that women who give birth to a first child at a young age, have more children and breastfeed, lower their risk of breast cancer, as well as endometrial and ovarian cancer. The Lancet piece cites a 1969 study of about 32,000 nuns in the United States from 1900 to 1954, which found that nuns had a higher likelihood of dying from these kinds of cancers than the general population.

But, broken down by age, the death rate for uterine cancer isn’t higher among nuns than females generally until age 70; for ovarian cancer it’s age 80. For ovarian cancer, nuns age 80 and above had a rate of 3 out of 10,000 deaths reported; for uterine cancer, about 13 out of 10,000.

“So the question has to be asked, is it worth the expense (and these drugs are expensive) to treat all at risk populations (in this case nuns) with preventative hormone replacement in order to prevent 13 cancers?” says Sr. Beatrice Hernandez, a Franciscan sister who is also a retired oncologist.

Britt and Short cite two large studies, published in 2010, on the health effects of the oral contraceptive pill, showing it reduces the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers, and does not up the risk of breast cancer. Women who had never taken the pill had a 12% higher mortality rate than those who used it regularly.

Read the rest.

Comments

  1. Klaire says:

    Don’t believe this propoganda for a minute! Looks like they have another agenda to add to their already “culture of death” mentality.

    Sadly, the once greatly respected medical journal Lancet (British) has gone liberal along with the once American great, New England J of Medicine.

    I’ve written before on this topic that the correclation between birth control pills and breast cancer is one of the “dirtly little secrets of the medical industry”, as God forbid anyone “with authority” speak out agains the sacred pill. Imagine what that would do to our “sex without consequences” culture?

    The pill came out in the early 1960′s. At that tme, only 1 in 20 women were ever diagnosed with breast cancer, now it is 1 in 8. Bottom line, anyone who takes the pill, espeically before a first pregancy, increases her risk of breast cancer by 40%.

    Maybe someday, someone will have the guts to make THAT a “pink ribbon.”

  2. Kate says:

    Ugh. I wish the medical profession would be honest enough for once. The truth is, there’s still so much they don’t really know or understand about the female reproductive cycle hormonal feedback loops. Yet, they seem to have little trouble adding yet more hormones to that cycle to treat what is essentially a normal process. What’s more, those who take the pill for whatever reason trade one set of risks for another set of risks, such as blood clots, for example. This is another example of phoning it in when it comes to female health issues. It’s too much work apparently for doctors and researchers to find out what the real causes are of some of the issues and problems purported to be treated by the pill and find perhaps alternative, non-hormonal ways of dealing with the issue, rather than essentially interfere with a natural process. I remember when hormone replacement therapy was touted as a cure all for menopause (yet another normal, natural process) but that increased all kinds of risks as well. I know of no one who takes such therapy now. Of course, the companies with money and profits invested in such drugs have no interest in really looking at alternatives, because that would affect their bottom line. The doctors are plugged into the system too, so it’s not in their interests to look at the real issues either. I am ever so grateful for the refreshing honesty of my endocrinologist about such matters, and for his policy of least interference with natural processes.

  3. Henry Karlson says:

    This is not propaganda; the pill does have medical uses, for extreme cases, and the Church has no problem with those who are celibate using it for such. This is not news, and not propaganda. Of course all medicines have risks, but there can be risks for some who don’t take them, too.

  4. Melody says:

    While I don’t see that it is morally wrong to use the pill for non-contraceptive health reasons, I am dubious about a pharmaceutical solution to everything. From what I have read, maintaining a healthy weight and moderate exercise gives as much or better protection from female cancers as this use of the pill. Maybe to protect the sisters’ health, they would be better off to train their cook in dietetics and have a workout room in the convent.

  5. Klaire says:

    Henry your comment is a non-sequitur. This article isn’t about treating acne or cramps (which is another “mainstream misuse” when better and safer alternatives exist but that’s another topic).

    This is specifically about selling the hype that the pill prevents breast cancer, when in fact, it clearly and greatly increases the risks of it. Anyone can get an agenda driven “study” to “show” just about anything you want it to show (it’s done all the time, and as a scientist myself, I know how easy it is to do it). The FACTS are that breast cancer has GREATLY increased since the pill. I doubt that you understand the risks of synthetic hormones, but maybe you will now tell us that you have a medical/scientific background as well.

    Actually, you make the case perfectly as to how the average person, especially men, will defend the pill without even consideration of what it does to a women’s body. Don’t believe me, just keep wearing those pink ribbons and playing the denial game while if that wasn’t bad enough, much of that money goes to fund planned parenhood, the major abortion provider in America. And one last thing, abortions also increase the risk of breast cancer. I call it the “pink bamboozle.”

  6. Klaire says:

    You are absolutely correct Melody.

    Besides, wouldn’t you love to see the stats on the nuns who have been diagnosed with breast cancer? I think I will try and research it, but would be suprised if I could find accurate info on it. That said, in all of my years of working with breast cancer patients/tumors, I have no memory of ever having a nun for a patient. I’m sure there have been some, but actually, that would be a very interesting study, especially if as expected, the results would be in the 1960, pre pill days, of only 1 in 20.

    I was trying to stay on topic of only breast cancer, but there are countless side effects, many little known, to using birth control pills.

  7. Rudy says:

    There are other studies that advocate exactly the opposite; the pill increases the risk of cancer.
    I’ve seen women in my family affected by the pill; cramps, bleeding, mood swings, hormonal imbalances, etc.,etc., totally opposite what the article above says. The pill is a danger to women’s health.

  8. Henry Karlson says:

    You do realize things like chemotherapy can also have risk for cancer? Again, the issue is in relation to what kinds of risks vs what kinds of medical help they give in particular cases.

  9. Deacon Norb says:

    “In an earlier life,” I was an active CPR Instructor/Instructor-Trainer for two separate Non-Profit Organizations that promoted that skill. I recall one incident — way before CPR training was required for nursing students — where I was giving the lecture component of that course to a group of Registered Nurses at a Roman Catholic seamless living care center. Our topic was “Risk Factors” for sudden cardiac arrest. I then mentioned that I had a permanent risk-factor that none of my class had and it was gender related. Statistics were available that indicated women of child-bearing age seemed genetically immune from heart disease — UNLESS, they were BOTH on the “pill” and were smokers. Then their risk was the same as mine. One nurse in her late twenties — looking rather pale — asked me to repeat what I said. Which I did — a bit more emphatically. I later found out that there was a long history of genetically driven heart disease among the men in her family that somehow she believed she was immune to.

  10. jkm says:

    When I was teaching at my alma mater, a Catholic girls’ high school staffed by religious women, in the 1970s, we lost a horrific 8 sisters to cancer within a 5-year period, and several others were diagnosed with the disease. This was not a case of an environmental cluster, as the sisters were from different communities and parts of the country. None was obese or sedentary. Even back then, the link between nulliparity and increased risk of some cancers in women was known, and hormone therapy (which is what the Pill is in cases like this) was certainly recommended. I do not know what decision the sisters, their spiritual advisers, and their doctors came to, but I do not believe God gave us the ability to weigh the moral complexities of this and other challenging biomedical decisions and then required us to hide it under a bushel. Preserving the lives of religious women, who have sacrificed so much to answer God’s call, is surely a prolife activity and not an advancement of the culture of death.

  11. Klaire says:

    With all due respect jkm, I could give you over a hundred side effects of the pill.

    The fact that they used nuns to promote the almighty pill clearly shows how desperate and deceptive they have become in keeping the “big secret.” As breast cancer stats increase, can you even imagine what is at risk if the pill got condemed? In addition to drug company profits, it would turn our sexually obcessed culture on its head.

    Melody pointed out that nothing is a better prevention for cancer than a healthy low fat diet and exercise. I would include also early detection.

  12. Klaire says:

    Yes Henry there certainly are some very dangerous “chemo” drugs as well as some that cause cancers or heart, and nerve damage. But here’s the other block buster secret: most cancer chemotherapy doesn’t work, and most is picked by how much the oncolgosits make as opposed to using testing (which is now available), to see if or if not specific drugs work against the patient’s specific tumors.

    Oncologist make 60% of their income on the drugs, so why “not giving” any is not a popular option.

    Chemo does work in a few, but sadly, many get chemo that is not only never going to work, but makes the patients much sicker and of course is very expensive.

    Best bet, eat well, exercise, and get regular screens.

  13. Melody says:

    Many, if not most, of the Carmelite communities are vegetarian. It would be interesting to compare their rates of cancer to other orders, or to the general population.

  14. Jo Flemings says:

    Here, Here, Klaire!

  15. Jo Flemings says:

    How do you know this was not an environmental cluster?! 8 in 5 years? Seriously, you don’t think there might have been a common denominator in the area? How naive is that? How skewed an observation to blame their virginity or their natural hormonal lives for an off the charts out of the norm upcurve in death among a religious population in one location!!! Who in their right mind would assume that it was because they did not take the pill that they died an untimely death in a cluster? Oh wow, the last time I checked the scientific method was more thorough than that, and philosophy studies usually broadened the mind in Catholic education, making people less gullible to a media agenda. Those sisters are probably spinning in their graves.

  16. hannajo says:

    This issue also relates to their vow of poverty. Even though “the pill” often costs only a few dollars per month, it’s still something extra that nuns have been doing fine without for hundreds of years. As someone who was in religious life for a short time, I would have real trouble justifying (to myself) taking a medication every day because I MIGHT get breast cancer. The pill is not a vitamin. This goes back to the philosophy that celibacy is bad for people.

    Also, Birth control pills are one of the only medications that are marketed for preventing things, as opposed to treating illnesses. To this day, I’m still flabbergasted that so many women are willing to take body-altering medications when they are not actually ill. I see this as just another case of that.

    Peace and blessings to everyone on this feast of the Immaculate Conception!

  17. Henry Karlson says:

    The vow of poverty does not say they cannot be given good health. We never had chemotherapy for cancer for hundreds of years, so you say nuns should die because of their vow of poverty? That is ridiculous and runs contrary to the dignity of life.

    And the idea of preventative health care is not new.

  18. daisy says:

    This is just a sales pitch to get more of us to use the Pill.

  19. Ed Peters says:

    Folks, this discussion is either about using a “pill” that is normally taken to prevent pregnancy to treat or prevent a pathology (in which case moral theology has ZERO problem with it) or it’s about the prudence of prescribing “the Pill” for anything given it carcinogenic risks, in which case anybody without MD after their name has rather little useful to add. Bottom line, this whole story is the just the MSM being cutsie, and sophomoric. Again.

  20. Klaire says:

    Bottom line, this whole story is the just the MSM being cutsie, and sophomoric. Again.

    Agree Ed, but as you can see, it works, as many fall for it, banking on the fact that most don’t have a clue about the science behind it. In this case, it’s not just the MSM, but the MS “Medical Media”, which as I said earlier, have gone left and liberal, proving that for the right price, most can be bought, science and medicine being no exception.

  21. Ed Peters says:

    Yup. Best, edp.

  22. Henry Karlson says:

    If you agree, do you have the MD which Ed said you need to further explore the issue? If not, then clearly you want your cake and to eat it too. For you are saying you can judge the medical professionals without being one when their result is one you find “leftist” and “liberal.” Though I don’t know how positive effects of medicine, if shown, is a “liberal” thing. Weird.

  23. sj says:

    Dr. Peters summed it up well and succinctly: this is the news media, possibly including the Lancet researchers, seeking an eye-catching headline. The use of oral contraceptives for cancer prevention should be left to the nuns and their health advisers. I’m a little skeptical but I’m not their physician.

  24. Ruth Ann says:

    How stupid! The drug companies will do anything to market their products. Nuns live longer than most people.

  25. jkm says:

    The headline is certainly the MSM at its usual cutesy worst. But there have indeed been countless verifiable studies indicating nulliparity as a risk factor in breast and reproductive organ cancers in women. Where that risk may be mitigated by hormonal therapy–weighed prudently against the side effects and counter-risks posed by this form of therapy–it may certainly be an ethical choice. That’s the bottom line of the article, of my earlier comment, of Catholic bioethical opinion, and of sj’s comment above. Please do not lose sight of that message in the general vituperation.

  26. Diakonos09 says:

    I cannot imagine nuns taking a drug to avoid death (which is bascially what it all boils down to). If anyone should set an example of faith about priority as to what this life means and what it is meant for and what our true goal is, then nuns would be top of that list. They (like us all) are going to die one way or another, and suffering is always part of the packaged deal. Besides, there are also medical and science professionals who propose that cancer (in general, in one form or another) is the “natural prey” of humanity so why would those with a vow of poverty expend funds to put off the inevitable? Used to be that nuns looked forward to that ultimate union with their Spouse.

  27. Henry Karlson says:

    Nuns never go to the hospital? Really?

  28. jkm says:

    The up side of this research, by the way, is that having children provides women with some protection against certain cancers. If you want to expend energy on this topic, do it by promoting this additional argument for the saneness and soundness of the Gospel of Life.

  29. jkm says:

    What planet do you live on? If nuns (or anyone else for that matter) are to refuse treatment for or prevention of life-threatening diseases as part of their vocation, why not have them jump off a cliff at the end of their novitiate and speed that reunion? Do you take any medication for a headache, or is suffering just a part of your packaged deal? Talk about your death panels!

  30. Ed Peters says:

    No, HK, you are overstating your case, and certainly mine. I do not deny that non-MDs have something to say about medical topics (lest non-MDs, like me, never be allowed to critique medicine at all, which I do) but that non-MDs have little to add re the science. It’s a fine line, at times, I grant, but one that applies nonetheless. If Klaire’s point is that MSM medical journalism is (nearly) as biased as MSM in general, she can defend her point on the merits.

  31. HMS says:

    While it is good to respect the credentials of persons with MD after their names, it is important to know that not every doctor has knowledge of the biochemistry of the medications that they prescribe.

    Disclaimer: While I do not have an MD, I do have an MS in Chemistry and have taught organic and biochemistry to nurses, pre-med students, and biology majors (for 12 years in a small Catholic college outside of Philadelphia.) So, I hope you respect my ability to weigh in on this issue.

    For example, I find fault with the indiscriminate prescription of Hormone Replacement Therapy, e.g. Premarin, for women in menopause. I am talking about women who do not problems dealing with this natural process.

    With respect to your comment about the MSM, I think that the pharmaceutical companies can share some blame. Wyeth Labs (now part of Pfizer) which sold Premarin, used to have brochures with a vibrant looking, thirtyish woman on the cover in GYN waiting rooms, as if Premarin were the new “Fountain of Youth.”

    How many people are aware that Premarin is made up of chemicals isolated from pregnant mares’ urine (PREgnant MARes’ urINe)? Wyeth used to advertise that it was better than synthetic hormones because it derived from natural sources. (I wonder if their advertising department ever considered encouraging the women on Premarin to challenge the Kentucky Derby winner to a race?)

  32. Henry Karlson says:

    If her point is it is biased and making up stories, she would still have to know the science to confirm it is a biased telling. No, you also want to have your cake and eat it too, it seems. But that doesn’t surprise me.

  33. Henry Karlson says:

    Agreed, jkm. Of course, it is easier to say MSM bad, and of course, it is to promote a greater agenda, with no real care about the truth (as witnessed in other threads on here, when the truth comes out differently than claimed, there is no “I was wrong” but doubling down).

  34. Diakonos09 says:

    I think you and the post above you have jumped to some unnecessary conclusions. The article is fundamentally about taking a drug to prolong one’s life, not to alleviate suffering (that’s cool) and not to ignore medical care in or out of a hospital (that should be done if one so desires). I don’t think refusing unncessary medical intervention (which is NOT required of anyone under any circmstamces by Catholic moral teaching) is the same as “jumping off a cliff”.

    And yes I do know several nuns who have been diagnosed (at various ages) with a potentially fatal disease and did not see it as the horrible awful end to earthly life but their call to change addresses to the heavenly life. Really it boils down to how one views this life and if avoiding leaving it is to be done at all possible costs (not just financial). From my pastoral experience I would say that most people who desperately seek to prolong earhtly life do so out of a fear of which is ultimately a lack of faith and trust in God and what he has planned for us.

  35. Notgiven says:

    “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.” Mark 2:17. Yes, yes, Jesus goes on to talk about calling sinners, not the righteous. But, I believe, he also has something to say here about this situation. “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” Mark 8:36. I don’t believe it is necessary to prescribe the pill prophylactically as a blanket treatment for all these nuns. Individually, on a case-by-case basis, if a nun has a medical issue, it is licit to prescribe such as a treatment. The Church has no problem with this. But, is it wise to use this as an excuse to prescribe the pill as a preventive, just in case? I think not. The pill has many negatives, not the least of which is its association with an increased rate of breast cancer. Do we then prophylactically prescribe mastectomies for all nuns as well? Where is the respect for life there? Where does it stop? Do we go on to prophylactically prescribe prostrate surgery for all priests (and unmarried deacons) because there seems to be a link between prostrate cancer and a lack of ejaculation or lessened ejaculation? Unless and until there it is definitively proven that one thing leads to another, this is just bogus science.

  36. kevin says:

    Just more sinister marketing. The sub-conscious message is, hey, maybe the Pill isn’t so bad after all. As Klaire and others have noted, the liberal media has worked hand in glove to mute the side effects of the bill, including the horrendous increase in breast cancer rates among those who took it in the 60s.

  37. julie says:

    I just finished a course of chemo for breast cancer, and will take the “smart drug” herceptin, that targets my type of cancer, for a few more months. What you say about most chemotherapy not working is disquieting. Documentation? Are so many oncologists lacking in morals or in it just for the money? I must say that I saw pictures of how my Dad’s esophageal cancer had diminished after his chemotherapy.

    To keep it short – I have basically done all of the right things in my life healthwise – excercised, stayed thin, good diet, breastfed my babies, NFP for all but the 6 months before I converted to Catholicism over 30 years ago – but still here I am just finishing up what needed to be done, to the best of my knowledge, to fight this illness. It is hard to put a finger on what causes cancer and who will get it due to this or that. It is important that what you are claiming about chemo be true and documentable to many people who face this disease.

  38. julie says:

    I posted my comment under the wrong comment from Klaire. See above for her comment on most chemotherapy drugs not working.

  39. Oregon Catholic says:

    I’m not disagreeing with you just posting a caution about the weakness of statistics and the extreme difficulty of proving causation vs merely correlation. The rise in obesity since the 60′s is just as likely a factor for increase in breast cancer.

  40. jkm says:

    I need to stop rising to the bait. Comment boxes have simply become a wilderness in which I am utterly lost, and the resultant frustration is both bad for my blood pressure and a near occasion of sin. I’m sorry, because the posts themselves are always cause for fruitful discussion and exchange of ideas, which there doesn’t seem to be room for. I’ll stick to reading the posts and skipping the combox from now on. Bless you all.

  41. Oregon Catholic says:

    BCPs make it possible for many girls and women to function 30 days per month instead of being out of commission for several days each month due to heavy periods and cramps. I was in the final stage of labor with my first child before the pain was worse than what I had gone through every month since the age of 12. I’d say that qualifies as treating an illness. The question remains whether the trade off in side-effects is worth it but perhaps that’s a question for each individual to answer for themselves.

  42. Oregon Catholic says:

    Has anybody else noticed how young the couples are looking now in the Viagra and Cialis commercials? I predict it won’t be long before they will be advertised as enhancements to normal funtion, not just for erectile ‘dysfunction’.

  43. Oregon Catholic says:

    I agree 100% with you diakonos.

  44. Henry Karlson says:

    Seriously?!

  45. Gerard Nadal says:

    While the pill may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer in women, it heightens the risk of breast cancer, especially in nulliparous women. Nuns, being nulliparous are already at heightened risk for breast cancer because of the stimulatory effects of their monthly estrogen surges, which stimulate proliferation of breast tissue, leaving these cells immature (Type-1, and Type-2 cells) and cancer-prone.

    Only a successful first-full-term pregnancy converts 85% of these cells to mature, cancer-resistant (Type-3 and Type-4) cells, as the baby secretes the maturational hormone placental lactogen.

    In a 2009 study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute and the National Cancer Institute, it was shown that women who begin oral contraceptives (OC) after the age of 23 have a 240% increased incidence of triple negative breast cancer, which is the deadliest and most difficult to treat form of breast cancer.

    As with other cancers, the risk factors for breast cancer are multiplicative. Thus, nulliparity and OC use have a multiplicative effect. There is no net gain in benefit, but only a trade-off of one heightened cancer risk for another.

  46. jkm says:

    I knew these women well, I am in my right mind, and I never said they would be alive if they were on the pill. I said, and the research for more than three decades backs me up, that childbirth provides a degree of natural protection against some forms of cancer in women and that in some cases hormonal therapy (not contraception) might reduce this risk for a woman who has not borne children. That is not blaming nuns for their virginity or being gullible or any of the other things you accuse me of.

  47. Barbara P says:

    So are priests not supposed to take medication to avoid death? Should they forego heart medication?

  48. jcd says:

    Aging With Grace The Nun Study:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmMVoltH6nE

  49. Ed Peters says:

    I’ve noticed that too. Sinister stuff.

  50. Ed Peters says:

    Comboxes are a good whose price might be too high to pay. I have not decided myself, but I know which way I am leaning.

  51. Ed Peters says:

    HK, when you are correct (as you have been several times in this thread), you are too heavy-handed in making your points; when you are wrong (as you have been a few times here), you show contemptuousness of your critics. But at least you sign your name, which more than many others do. So, paucis passibus.

  52. Klaire says:

    Agree. I wish the com boxes weren’t even an option.

  53. Mark says:

    The sad part of all this is that scientific research has been bought and paid for over the years like many other things. The funding for the vast majority of studies is paid for by those who expect a specific end result. The media is in most cases lazy and does not do their homework and simply push out bad information.
    I remember when they came out with Prempro menopause drugs to treat symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings. It was all over the news media. Now we see awards for women who used these drugs and developed breast cancer. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-06/pfizer-prempro-drug-caused-women-s-breast-cancer-jury-rules.html
    The other issue is that we are all made up slightly differently and we are only starting to see how our genetic makeup impacts the use of a drug. Until there are enough people who have had genetic sampling and had that added to the research, we will simply not know if and what the end result of our taking a specific drug will be for us as a person. One thing I would always advise is to not take anything that you are not comfortable with and have done some research on and then to closely monitor yourself for even minimal changes. We use far to many drugs today and it is far from an exact science.
    With birth control pills, there is too much money and to much political baggage around that product to trust much of any science studies unless you are fully aware of the funding and politics behind the study and are able to interprete data. The term “buyer beware” is something that everyone should remember when talking about pills.

  54. cathyf says:

    Notice that just casually slipped in there was the well-documented fact that mothers who refuse to breastfeed significantly increase their chances of developing breast cancer. “Mothers” being a much much much larger group than “nuns.” But formula makers would lose giant big bucks if this got out, so we’ll only hear the cutsie-pie discussions of nuns health.

  55. Mike L says:

    This seems to imply that you do not believe in vaccinations which are given when people are not ill.

    Mike L

  56. Melody says:

    “It is hard to put a finger on what causes cancer and who will get it due to this or that.” Julie, you are of course right about that. My mother had cancer and she had none of the risk factors and always took care of herself. We try to figure out what causes it, but in the end we mostly don’t know. And yes, oncologists are just trying to give their patients the best possible chance; even if treatment hasn’t yet been perfected to the level that we would wish.
    Prayers being offered for your continued recovery and good health.

  57. justamouse says:

    That you for this informative, fact based post.

  58. julie says:

    Thank you so much, Melody!

  59. Klaire says:

    Hi Julie:

    First let me say I’m very sorry for your illness, and will most certainly keep you in my prayers. I also didn’t see your post until this morning.

    The good news is that the Herceptin that you are taking is NOT a chemotherapy drug, but an monoclonal antibody. It is used to prevent recurrance.

    If Dcn. Greg wants to give you my email address, I will be more than happy to send you the names of the information and names of the labs that test the patient tumor cells for Chemotherapy (to know in advance which drugs, if any, will work or not work). Hopefully you will be fine and won’t need any more chemo. However, should you ever have a recurrance, you might want to educate yourself on assay directed patient therapy.

    Sadly the reality is most patients are not aware of it, and get “profit driven chemo.” Just yesterday one of my medical oncologist friends reminded me that the median survival rate for metastatic breast cancer is the same today as it was in the 1970′s!

    Truly I will be happy to point you in the right direction should you ever need it. I’ve done the work myself for years and know the best labs, and oncologists and surgeons who work with those labs. I just don’t feel it’s appropiate to do it via Dcn. Greg’s blog.

  60. Henry Karlson says:

    Klaire

    I find your comments on here becoming more and more dangerous and, like so many who are anti-medicine, following conspiracy theories against medicine, spout out lies you have been told by (what, by new age medicine gurus trying to sell something? — the irony!) and in doing so, will end up encouraging people not to get the medicine they need.

    The fact that chemotherapy doesn’t work with everyone doesn’t mean it is not a good thing to use compared to the options we have. It is often used in connection to many other treatments (radiation therapy). It helped save my mom who had a fast growing cancer which got into her lymph nodes. People like you are dangerous. Do you have no shame?!

    I would encourage Deacon Greg to look at what is being put on here and consider the danger inherent in such dangerous comments. I hope no one has died because of your “advice.”

  61. Henry Karlson says:

    As an example, Julie said she first had chemotherapy before taking herceptin. This is exactly what is done — multiple medicines, and the chemo probably has helped cut back the cancer so other forms can add their own qualities to the mix so as to entirely take it out. Sure, for some cancers, chemotherapy has a far less success rate than others — but that does not mean it has no effect, no positive value: some lives have been saved which would not have been if people followed your conspiracy theory.

  62. Klaire says:

    Henry with all due respect, you don’t know what you are talking about. The work is all done by Board Certified Medical Oncologists, published in Oncology text books, countless peer reviewed journals, and used around the world, just not by most American Oncologists who make most of their money off of chemo drugs.

    And FYI, it’s also used by the oncologists when THEY get cancer. It’s lab testing, of standard chemo drugs and new FDA drugs that aren’t part of established regimens.

    Boy you can’t win with you can you? I intentionally DIDN’T promote it for the exact reason of which you accuse me. If I was hard selling something, which I’m not, don’t you think I would have blasted it all over the blog? I’m just telling it like it is; cancer patients deserve better.

  63. Klaire says:
  64. Henry Karlson says:

    Once again, the shilling of the new-age attack on traditional medicine with its misrepresentation of chemo-therapy, taking statements out of context, is what you are promoting here. The idea that it is all a con game to make money — seriously, YOU ARE GOING TO GET SOMEONE KILLED and you don’t care, because of your views of the medical industry.

    It’s well known, medicine is complex. That chemotherapy can produce some cancers is known. That it can’t cure everything is known. However, that it can work is also known. And when one is dying of cancer, it is often known that the best way to deal with it includes chemotherapy — not because it necessarily will cure the cancer, but it is far more likely than if someone does nothing. Please. Stop spouting off more and more evidence of your instability and doing so in ways which are quite, quite deadly.

  65. pagansister says:

    Leave it up to each individual nun if they wish to take the drug or not. Give them the option, IMO.

  66. diakonos09 says:

    That would be up to the prayerful decision of each priest. In either case he would be morally justified. It would depend upon what he believed God was calling him to do. A fundamental moral principle (emphasized by Pius XII) is that we do not have ANY obligation in and of itself to do anything tp prolong our lives, and we are equally free to do whatever is moral in ordeer to preserve them. Such decision are perhaps much easier for priests, religious or single persons. Married persons have spouses and maybe children whom they must also factor into their decision. Hence also the need for a good solid spiritual director and friends/companions who share with us the prioer priorities in this life and can assist us when or if we reach such vital moments in our personal histories.

  67. zmama says:

    As a woman who has had 3 miscarriages and no live births, I am aware of the research that I may be at higher risk of ovarian cancer, like the nuns mentioned, than women who have given birth. As far as risks of breast cancer, from what I have read it was my understanding that higher rates of a more aggressive form of breast cancer known as “triple negative” have been linked to long term use of “the pill” in younger women. So while giving nuns the pill to prevent ovarian cancer may make some sense, giving it to them to prevent breast cancer makes no sense to me. Again, I am not a scientist. I am just basing this on all that I have read through my years of infertility and pregnancy losses. I have also been a patient of Dr. Stegman who trained with Dr Hilgers of the Pope Paul VI center and I learned the Creighton model of Fertility Care to chart my cycles. Personally, although I may be at higher risk of ovarian cancer than a woman who has born children I would rather face that risk than take the pill and increase my possible risk of breast cancer, especially with a family history of breast cancer.

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