GENEVA, Switzerland, August 8, 2005 ( – A press release issued on July 29th of this year by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization (WHO), declared the little publicized classification of combined estrogen-progestogen oral contraceptives (OCs) as carcinogenic. The IARC placed the contraceptives into their Group 1 classification, the highest classification of carcinogenicity, used only “when there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans.” (emphasis theirs)

Combined estrogen-progestogen OCs are the most commonly prescribed forms of contraceptives. According to the IARC “worldwide, more than 100 million women – about 10% of all women of reproductive age – currently use combined hormonal contraceptives.”

This outright declaration by the World Health Organization of the proven dangers of combined OCs comes as an unexpected surprise to many who have been working for years to publicize their dangers. “I’m stunned that they would come out and say that, because they’ve been denying this for years,” said Toronto area MD and medical adviser to Campaign Life Coalition, Dr. Shea. But he added, “They’re really only admitting something that’s been known.”

In 2003 the National Cancer Institute (NCI) became one of the latest added to the list of scientific bodies that had found a substantially increased risk of several types of cancer amongst combined OC users, citing a “significant increase” of the risk of breast cancer, as well as an increase in the risk of cervical and liver cancers. Despite this admission, no significant steps have yet been taken to protect womens’ health and to curb the use of combined OCs.

The IARC press release further confirms the NCI’s findings, declaring that: “Previously, combined oral contraceptives had been determined to be carcinogenic to humans, but only primary liver cancer was specifically implicated. The Working Group concluded that combined oral contraceptives alter the risk of several common cancers in women. They increase a woman’s risk of cervical cancer, breast cancer, and liver cancer.”

Despite the immediate danger to the nearly 100 million women worldwide who are regularly ingesting the newly-defined ‘carcinogenic’ contraceptive pills, the IARC did not recommend that the regular prescription and easy availability of combined OCs should undergo any review. In this the IARC parallels the National Cancer Institute’s study concluded with the recommendation that, instead of the obvious remedy of decreased use of the medically dangerous combined contraceptives, women should undergo frequent mammograms and Pap tests, to discover and curb already developing cancers.

See the IARC release: