Two Australian doctors said the world’s 95,000 Catholic nuns should take oral contraceptives because it will lessen their risk of developing breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers.
All three cancers are more prevalent in women who do not have children, and because of nuns’ vows of chastity, those women have faced a greater cancer risk for hundreds of years.The doctors, Kara Britt, of Monash University, and Roger Short, of the University of Melbourne, said the pill could be the solution.
“If the Catholic Church could make the oral contraceptive pill freely available to all its nuns, it would reduce the risk of those accursed pests, cancer of the ovary and uterus, and give nuns’ plight the recognition it deserves,” the doctors said.
“Accursed pest” was the term 18th Century Italian physician Bernadino Ramazzini used to describe breast cancer.
The study appeared in The Lancet medical journal.
The Catholic Church has long been opposed to artificial contraception. But in the study, the doctors said use of the pill might be possible under a missive sent out in 1968, by Pope Paul VI. In the document Humanae Vitae, the pope said, “The church in no way regards as unlawful therapeutic means considered necessary to cure organic diseases, even though they also have a contraceptive effect.”