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On the pill

WInuns.jpgAlthough famously celibate, a new study by the University of Melbourne says that nuns would be better off on the contraceptive pill.

Scientists have discovered that nuns in the USA have higher death rates from breast, ovarian and uterine cancer than for other women of the same age. In 1970, it was formally recognised that the lack of childbearing in nuns raised their breast cancer risk.

The oral contraceptive pill has been shown to reduce the risk of contracting some of these cancers. Mortality rates of women who have ever taken it drop by 12% compared with non-users. The risk of developing ovarian and endometrial cancers falls by 50%-60%, a protection that persists for 20 years.
Writing in the Lancet, Dr Kara Britt from Monash University, Melbourne, and Professor Roger Short from the University of Melbourne, say that nuns should therefore have the option to take the pill:

'The Catholic church condemns all forms of contraception, as outlined by Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae in 1968. Although Humanae Vitae never mentions nuns, they should be free to use the contraceptive pill to protect against the hazards of nulliparity since the document states that "the church in no way regards as unlawful therapeutic means considered necessary to cure organic diseases, even though they also have a contraceptive effect."‚ÄČ If the Catholic church could make the contraceptive pill freely available to all its nuns, it would reduce the risk of those accursed pests, cancer of the ovary and uterus, and give nuns' plight the recognition it deserves.'