by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
According to the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the birth control pill is polluting the environment and is partly responsible for male infertility.
The pill “has for some years had devastating effects on the environment by releasing tons of hormones into nature” through female urine, said Pedro Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, president of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, in the Jan. 3 report.
“We have sufficient evidence to state that a non-negligible cause of male infertility in the West is the environmental pollution caused by the pill,” he said.
“We are faced with a clear anti-environmental effect which demands more explanation on the part of the manufacturers,” Mr Castellvi said.
It is already known that increased lifetime exposure to estrogen has caused world cancer rates to jump by 26 percent since 1980 and the Columbia Environmental Research Center is already studying whether estrogen-contaminated water may be affecting human males.
Studies have shown that the sperm count in healthy males has dropped by half in the past 50 years, according to a global review of 61 studies involving nearly 15,000 men. As long ago as 1992, the British Medical Journal published a study that found men in Western countries today have less than half the sperm production of their grandfathers.
There have also been numerous studies in recent years of synthetic birth control hormones being excreted into water systems and wreaking havoc on the sex of fish stock.
For instance, a 2005 study conducted by scientists from the University of Colorado discovered fish with both male and female characteristics in a waterway located downstream from a Boulder sewage plant. One of the biologists, John Woodling, told the Denver Post that the discovery of trans-gendered fish was “the first thing that I’ve seen as a scientist that really scared me.”
Scientists know very little about what affect modern pharmaceuticals, such as birth control pills, may have on the environment. They only know from collecting environmental samples that a potential toxic soup of chemicals, including pain killers, antibiotics, cholesterol reducing, blood pressure regulating and chemotherapy drugs, is entering the ecosystem after being excreted by people.
“The drugs enter the wastewater, where treatment of sewage can be completely ineffective or very effective at removing them, depending on the type of drug and on the type of sewage treatment plant,” said Dr. Karen Kidd, a biology professor at the University of New Brunswick.
Dr. Kidd conducted an exhaustive seven-year study of the problem and presented the findings at the prestigious 2008 American Association for the Advancement of Science Conference.
With an estimated 100 million women worldwide taking some form of hormonal contraceptive, this problem will persist for years to come.
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