In association with a conference held in the nation’s capitol today about the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill, a pro-life group has released the results of a new poll.
Human Life International America released a new national poll surveying teenaged and adult women showing widespread usage of the birth control pill despite women not knowing much about potential harmful effects.
The poll, conducted by professional firm the polling company/WomenTrend surveyed more than 800 women aged 15‐44 in the United States.
Once learning that the birth control pill can raise the risk of contracting breast cancer, about 40 percent of women in the poll were more deterred from using it than before.
Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, a New jersey-based breast cancer surgeon, is a presenter at the HLI conference and she says women need to know more about the potential problems.
“The most egregious omission affecting a young woman’s life is the fact that in 2005, the International Agency on Research of Cancer listed oral contraceptives as Group I carcinogens for breast, cervical and liver cancer,” she says. “You’ll find cigarettes and asbestos in the same group as risks for lung cancer.”
The poll found 78 percent of women have used the birth control pill and a 35% began using it under the age of 18. Thirty‐five percent of women aged 15‐44 who were surveyed said that they currently take oral contraceptives, while an additional 43% said that they had in the past but no longer do.
Fewer than one‐in‐five (19%) said they had never used oral contraceptives.
Three-fifths of women said they began taking the Pill to prevent pregnancy, and nearly two‐thirds said that is the reason why they are still on it. This was the top reason across all demographic groups. Regulation of menstruation was the second‐most common reason why women began oral contraceptives and remain on it
Women were less likely to have used another form of hormonal birth control — like contraceptive shots or patches – as two-thirds said they had never done so; 11% said they currently do, and 19%
said they did at one point.
Three‐in‐five women said they took the Pill (or used another form of hormonal birth control) after becoming sexually‐active for the first time.
The survey found a majority of women don’t know the side effects of the pill and were more likely to share those sides effects than information about significant medical problems the pill caused.
All women surveyed – regardless of contraceptive use – said that knowing “there is new evidence to suggest that taking hormonal contraceptives may increase the risk of breast cancer” would give them serious pause; 44% concluded they would be less likely to take them, and 3% would be more likely. Still, 44% said such research made no difference to them.
While 49% of women were warned by a friend or physician about weight gain and 23% of headaches, only 40% were told of blood clots and the risk of stroke and 19% of increased risks of breast cancer. [related]
In a second question, 54% of women said that use of the Pill for pregnancy prevention would not be worth it if further research shows that there is a definitive link between use of hormonal birth control and cancer; 32% said the risk would be worth the benefits of pregnancy prevention.
Ultimately, the poll found women generally believe the birth control pill has had a positive effect on them, their families, and society. By margins of at least 6‐to‐1, the impact of birth control was deemed more positive than negative on society, marriages, and relationships in the U.S.