Nuns pay a high price for their chastity. Leading a life without having children increases the risk of cancer. Therefore, the Catholic Church should allow nuns to take the contraceptive pill to reduce the high death rates from breast, ovarian and uterine cancer, researchers say.
In the first half of the 20th century, researchers already found out about the alarming mortality rate among nuns caused by cancer. A study of nearly 32,000 Catholic nuns in the U.S. showed that nuns more often die of cancer compared to other women of their age. Childlessness increases the risk of cancer, because pregnancy and breastfeeding reduce the number of ovulatory cycles a woman has during life. More ovulatory cycles means a higher risk of getting cancer.
As outlined by Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae in 1968, the Catholic church condemns all forms of contraception. Today, in an online publication in The Lancet, Dr Kara Britt from Monash University, Melbourne, and Professor Roger Short from the University of Melbourne plead that nuns should be free to use the contraceptive pill. Previous research shows it reduces the overall mortality rates of women who have ever taken it by 12% compared with non-users. The risk of developing ovarian and endometrial cancers falls by 50%-60% in pill users compared with women who never used it, protection that persists for 20 years.
Source: The Guardian
Kara Britt a,, & Roger Short b (2011). The plight of nuns: hazards of nulliparity The Lancet, Early Online Publication : doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61746-7