October 25, 2004 ( – Beginning early last week hundreds of news outlets around the world reported that a new study had shown that using oral chemical contraceptives reduced the risk of heart attack.

The UK’s Telegraph wrote, “Women who take the Pill are protecting themselves against cancer and heart disease.” The Hindustan Times of India reported,  “new research claims that the tablets, on the contrary, reduce chances of heart attacks.” Health of South Africa ran the headline, “Pill cuts heart disease risk.”  One BC pharmacist, Christina Alarcon of Canada’s Pharmacists for Life called one manufacturer of the drugs, Wyeth Ayerst, asking for a copy of the ‘study’ and was told there was no study to send. Alarcon pointed out that the claim that women who take oral contraceptives have lower instances of heart disease is deceptive. “Doctors don’t normally prescribe oral contraceptives to women with a history of heart disease anyway. So of course looking at the data of women who take the pill will show that most of them have a lower history of heart disease, their doctors wouldn’t give it to them otherwise.”  Closer examination shows the ‘study’ is actually not a new independent study but a reassessment of statistical data drawn from the US Women’s Health Initiative, a 15 year examination of the effects of hormone treatments on rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis, in postmenopausal women. The information that made headlines last week was composited by a team of analysts from Wayne State University headed by Dr. Rahi Victory.

The new report was not conducted with the normal rigorous controls of a double-blind, placebo-controlled scientific study and has not been published in any peer-reviewed scientific journals. The research was presented at the conference of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Philadelphia and no information has been made public as to who funded it.  Alarcon said, “The journalists, especially in the Canadian press, took verbatim what was released and didn’t ask any questions.”  Ph


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