By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A new birth control pill using natural rather than synthetic hormones is being marketed in England after being tested on 3,000 women.
The new pill, named Qlaira, is manufactured by Bayer Schering Pharma and uses bioidentical hormones derived from natural plant sources. It works the same way as other birth control pills, by altering the body’s hormone balance, which blocks the ovaries from releasing a new egg.
Although bioidentical hormones have been touted by some as a safer alternative to artificial hormones, there is no scientific evidence to support this theory.
Controversy has been swirling around the use of bioidentical horomones ever since an appearance in January by Suzanne Somers on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Somers credits bioidentical hormones with helping her through menopause and details her outlandish daily regiment of hormones and other supplements in her new book, Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones.
However, Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing editor for FOXNewshealth.com, and other health professionals have warned that bioidentical hormones should be used with caution.
“From a scientific point of view, these hormones are very similar to the ones females have in their bodies,” said Alvarez. “The question always is how much to take, because there are not a lot of studies that have been done proving their benefits.”
Alvarez, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, said some bioidentical hormones that are similar to the female hormone estrogen may increase the risk of certain cancers. He also warned that most of these hormones are manufactured in places where the quality is unchecked.
The Food and Drug Administration, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the North American Menopause Society have also warned consumers to use caution when taking these products, pointing out that there are no studies to back the safety or effectiveness of bioidentical and custom-made hormone therapies.
All forms of artificial birth control are condemned by the Catholic Church, including “every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” (Humanae Vitae, 14).
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