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Women, Heart Disease, and Birth Control

By Angela Wittman


He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye LORD! (Psalm 113:9 KJV)


Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD... (Psalm 127:3 KJV)


Dear Friends,


This essay is written in response to the growing controversy of whether hormonal methods of birth control increase the risk of heart disease for women. Recent studies have shown there is concern of a link between hormonal methods of birth control, which are commonly prescribed for and used by women, and an increased risk of heart disease.


Did you know that according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Office of Women's report "Heart Disease in Women" that more women die from heart disease than anything else? They also advise women who are taking birth control pills to not smoke as a way to lower their risk of heart disease. (1)


Recent studies conducted between January 1980 and October 2002 suggest that use of the pill can raise cardiovascular risk, and may even double a woman's risk of heart attack or stroke. This risk may include those using third-generation, low-dose birth control pills. According to these same studies, the risk vanishes after a woman stops using low-dose oral contraceptives. (2)


It is advised that women considering birth control should be screened for heart disease risk to identify those of high-risk early in order to reduce their risk of heart disease later in life. Who is considered to be of high-risk for heart disease? Overweight or obese women, women with high blood pressure, women using oral contraceptives to treat irregular menstrual cycles, and/or polycystic ovary syndrome, (PCOS). (3)


For those women who have been using the birth control patches, they may be at increased risk for blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks.


In May of 2004, a fourteen-year-old girl in Wisconsin died of five blood clots after using the patch for five weeks. Her parents are now suing the makers of the Ortho Evra birth control patch for failure to warn women of serious side effects. Recently the makers of the patch, Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, has issued a new warning stating users will be at greater risk for blood clots and other side effects.(4)


The controversy surrounding the patch became public in July of 2005 after the Associated Press conducted an investigation. This investigation revealed that women using the Ortho Evra patch were three times as likely as those using birth control pills to die or develop nonfatal blood clots; and approximately one dozen women in their late teens or early twenties had died in 2004 from blood clots, which may have been associated with the patch. (5)


Recently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced revisions to the label for the patch. It has been reported by the Wall Street Journal (November of 2005) that some doctors have stopped prescribing the patch for their patients.(6)


Ortho-McNeil is conducting two large-scale studies on the effects of the patch.(7)


I believe the evidence presented here raises legitimate concerns and questions about hormonal birth control being dangerous to womens health, and that side effects have not been fully disclosed.


For single women, the safest method of birth control is abstinence, sexual purity, and chastity.


Married couples wishing to practice birth control that does not carry any health risks can choose natural family planning.

My hope and prayer is that not only will American women take better care of themselves; but they will rejoice in the blessing of conception, and cease from using harmful chemicals for birth control.


Notes:

1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Women's Health, www.fda.gov/womens/ , "Heart Disease in Women", August 2005.

2. Health Scout, July 13, 2005, "Even Low-Dose Birth Control Raises Heart Risk" by Robert Preidt,



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