MONDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- With the vast increase in the use of the contraceptive pill over the past 40 years, the amount of estrogen entering the water supply may be partly responsible for the increased incidence of prostate cancer around the world, Canadian researchers speculate.
Excess estrogen is known to cause various cancers, and the widespread use of the pill might raise environmental levels of the hormone.
"Recent studies have shown that estrogen exposure may increase the risk of prostate cancer," said lead researcher Dr. David Margel, a clinical fellow in the Department of Surgical Oncology at Princess Margaret Hospital and the University of Toronto.
"We wanted to explore whether there was an association with a woman's use of oral contraceptives to prostate cancer incidence or mortality," he explained. Although the amounts of estrogen excreted by a woman is minimal, when millions of women do it over a long period of time, it might cause a low-level environmental contamination, Margel said.
The report is published online in the Nov. 14 edition of BMJ Open.
For the study, Margel and his colleague Dr. Neil E. Fleshner, researchers at the university's Health Network, used data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the United Nations World Contraceptive Use report to identify the rates of prostate cancer and prostate cancer deaths as well as the proportion of women using contraceptive pills.
Margel and Fleshner complied data on countries and continents around the world to see if there was any connection between contraceptive pills and prostate cancer.
The researchers looked at some 100 countries and found that where the use of oral contraceptives was high, so was the rate of prostate cancer. These findings did not change based on a nation's wealth, they added.
"It seems as if the European countries had
All rights reserved