Apparently, birth control might be causing prostate cancer in men. How might birth control, something typically ingested by women, end up causing prostate cancer in men? According to a new study, it’s likely that estrogen is ending up in our water supply, courtesy of birth control, and by way of women’s pee:
1. Woman swallows containing ethinyloestradiol, a type of estrogen common in many types of oral contraceptives.
2. Ethinyloestradiol is excreted through women’s urine.
3. The urine—and hormones—enter our water supply, where they aren’t fully filtered out and also come into contact with the earth and plants, which then emit more hormones into the food chain.
Researchers from the University of Toronto examined birth control use and prostate cancer death rates in 88 countries, and found a strong correlation between the two. While the authors say they can’t establish a cause-and-effect relationship, several studies have shown a link between estrogen exposure and prostate cancer, and the aforementioned mechanism seems a likely culprit for the correlation they found in their study.
While we’re not sure that all women are going to ditch their oral contraceptives anytime soon, men can also minimize estrogen exposure by limiting their contact with BPA, another compound that mimics estrogen in the body, which many studies have linked to cancer and obesity. But in the meantime, score one for IUDs!