Breast Cancer Prevention Institute
Breast Cancer Prevention Institute
pill kills brochure
The Pill Kills

The Life Threatening Medical Consequences of Oral Contraceptives
combination drugs

Breast Cancer Prevention Institute


What is “the Pill”?


How the Pill Kills

  The 4 Ways the Pill Kills

The 1st Way the Pill Kills


The 2nd Way The Pill Kills


The 3rd Way The Pill Kills


The 4th Way The Pill Kills



What is “the Pill”?
When women refer to “The Pill,” they usually are referring to estrogen-progestin combination birth control pills (oral contraceptives) that are taken daily from a monthly packet.

This brochure concerns estrogen-progestin combination drugs and their adverse effects on women’s health. These drugs can also be given using vaginal rings or skin patches which contain the same hormones as the Pill.

There are also progestin-only contraceptives that are linked to breast cancer; for instance, the “mini-pill” and the Depo-Provera injection. There is a progestin-only IUD called the Mirena.

How the Pill Kills


The 4 Ways the Pill Kills

1. They cause your blood to clot
  These clots can form in your heart, brain, and travel to your lungs from the legs.
2.  They make it easier to get potentially lethal infections
  The Pill increases your risk of human papilloma virus (HPV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
3. They cause cancer
  The Pill is a known group 1 carcinogen for breast, cervical and liver cancers according to the UN’s International Agency on Research of Cancer (IARC).
4.  They make it more likely you will die a violent death
  A large 2010 medical study showed that women were more likely to die a violent death if they took The Pill. Medical studies from as early as the late 1980s documented the biological reasons for this.


The 1st Way the Pill Kills

The Pill makes your blood clot

Blood clots can form in the heart, the brain, or travel to the lungs from the legs.
Blood clots in a heart artery cause a heart attack (MI)
Blood clots in a brain artery cause a stroke (CVA)
Blood clots in your leg veins cause  a deep venous thrombosis (DVT). These blood clots can break off from the legs and go to the lungs causing a fatal pulmonary embolism (PE) and are known as venous thromboembolisms (VTE).
 Women with heredity conditions that cause clotting (example: deficiencies in protein C & S, antithrombin III, or Factor V Leiden) cause even higher rates of clotting.

blood clot

MI: There is twice the risk of heart attack

Risks are even higher if women have other risk factors for myocardial infarction (MI).
Women with no conventional risk factors (hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, or smoking) who used the Pill had twice the risk of heart attack. The duration of the Pill use did not matter.(1)

Among women who had used the Pill, the risk of MI was highest among:
Those with hypertension had 5 times the risk.
Those who smoked had over 12 times the risk.
Those who had diabetes had 16 times the risk.
 Those who had high cholesterol had 23 times the risk.





CVA: There is over twice the risk of
stroke in women on the Pill

By a meta-analysis which combined the results of 16 studies, there is near 3 times the risk of ischemic stroke in women who used the Pill.

The risk is even higher with other risk factors. But for women who take birth control pills and smoke, have high blood pressure or have a history of migraine headaches, the stroke risk is significantly higher.

Smoking   pills


VTE: There is two to three times the risk
of lung blood clots in women on the Pill

The Pill increases the risk of blood clots in the deep veins of women’s legs (DVT). If the blood clots in the legs break off (VTE) and lodge in the lungs, a pulmonary embolism (PE), can lead to death if the PE is large.



By study, oral contraceptives increase the risk of deep venous thrombosis 5 times.(3)
Pulmonary embolism in women who use the Pill for less than a year was tripled compared to women who did not use the Pill.
The risk of pulmonary embolism decreased with decreasing doses of estrogen in the Pill.
Pulmonary embolism increased dramatically by 60-80% if the Pill had androgenic progestins, as found in Yaz and Yasmin.; such as desogestrel, gestodene, drospirenone, and cyproterone.(4)
The Ortho-Evra patch used for contraception causes clots higher than the rates with the Pill as the patch causes 60% higher estrogen levels than in the Pill users.


The 2nd Way The Pill Kills

Women on the Pill are more likely
to develop lethal infections

Women on the pill increased their risk of getting HIV infection by 60% when compared to women not taking the pill.(5)
Women on the pill were twice as likely to transmit HIV to their partner.
Women on the pill were twice as likely to get infected with HPV (human papilloma virus) which causes cervical cancer.(6)

The 3rd Way The Pill Kills

The Pill can cause breast cancer

Since 1975, the risk of in-situ breast cancer has increased 400% in premenopausal women. Invasive cancers have increased 40% overall in the U.S.
In 2000, the National Toxicology Advisory Panel put estrogen on its list of carcinogens. There are metabolites of estrogen which directly damage DNA causing mutations and cancer.
In 2006, a meta-analysis in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings showed a 44% increase risk of breast cancer in women who took the Pill before having a child.(7)
In 2007, the UN’s International Agency on Research of Cancer (IARC) reported in their Monograph 91 that estrogen-progestin combination drugs (the Pill) were a group 1 carcinogen for breast, cervical and liver cancers. Although the risk of uterine and ovarian cancers were lower on the pill, there is 4 times more breast cancer in women than uterine and ovarian cancers combined.(8)
In 2009, Dolle showed a 320% increase risk of triple negative breast cancer in women on the Pill, which is the most difficult and deadly form of breast cancer to treat.(9)




The Pill can cause cervical cancer

The risk of cervical cancer increases after more than five years on the Pill

Women who use the Pill for five to nine years have twice the risk of cervical cancer
Women who use the Pill for 10 years or more have more than a three times risk of cervical cancer.(10)


The Pill can cause liver cancer
Primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) is rare in developed countries and the pill increases its risk over 50% in women.(8)
A meta-analysis of 12 studies showed the Pill increased liver cancer 50%. Six studies showed the longer the Pill is used, the higher the risk.
The pill also increases the risk of benign tumors, hepatic adenomas and focal nodular hyperplasia (FNH) of the liver.

The 4th Way The Pill Kills


Women on the Pill are more likely to die a violent death

In 1980, a prospective study of the side effects of the Pill entitled, “The Walnut Creek Contraceptive Study,” reported that after cancer, the most common cause of death for women on the pill was accidents or violence.

In 2010 the British Medical Journal published a large study of nearly 2,000 women who had taken the Pill and died entitled, “Mortality among contraceptive pill users: cohort evidence from Royal College of General Practitioners’ Oral Contraception Study.”
(11) The study found that women who had taken the pill had higher rates of violent death and that the rate of violent death increased with the duration of pill use.

Although this was not explained in the study, a letter to the editor, published March 13, 2010, by S. Craig Roberts at the University of Liverpool gave an explanation for those results based upon research done years earlier.
(12) He stated, “I suggest that recent evolutionary insights into human partner choice provide a clue.” He stated that there is evidence that use of oral contraception alters women’s baseline preferences for men such that pill users prefer men who are relatively similar to themselves at the DNA loci of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes.(13) In other words, they prefer men who are genetically very similar to themselves.

One consequence of being partnered with relatively MHC-similar men is that such women express lower sexual responsivity toward their long-term partner compared with women in relatively MHC-dissimilar relationships; they reject sexual advances from their partner more frequently and report having more “extra-pair partners.” In other words, in their relationship, they had fewer sexual relations and more infidelity or adultery. No doubt, these relationships could understandably lead to violence.

Another stress on these MHC-similar relationships is that they have fertility problems and any children they do have are less healthy due to lower MHC heterozygosity (genetic dissimilarity). Unions that are very homozygous (similar genetically), such as those that result from close relatives intermarrying, are known to result in children that are less healthy.

Cumulatively, these effects could have real impact on the quality of spousal relationships.


It is not unreasonable to suspect that such effects could also influence rates of intimate partner violence. This is the most common cause of nonfatal injury among women and accounts for more than a third of women murdered in the United States.

These effects impact the quality of spousal relationships and no doubt are a reason for the fact the greatest cause of death of pregnant women is homicide.

Conversely, studies have shown that women off the Pill are rated more attractive by men.




Over 61 million women are on the Pill.

There are approximately 75 million women of reproductive age (15-45 years old) in the US.
 82% of these women take the Pill
Women on the PILL are more likely to have an MI, a CVA, a PE; get breast, cervical or liver cancers; get HIV and HPV infections; or die a violent death.

Is this what we want
for young women?


The Pill also causes miscarriages (spontaneous abortions) by acting as an abortifacient

As is well observed by those on the pill, menstrual periods are light because the pill reduces the thickness of the endometrial lining, resulting in difficulty of implantation of the embryo after conception has occurred
The pill also results in biochemical changes, such as in the levels of interleukins, which are molecules necessary for implantation.(16)



(1) Tanis BC, et al. Oral contraceptives and the risk of myocardial infarction. NEJM 2001;345:1787-93.


(2) Gillum, LA. Ischemic stroke risk with oral contraceptives. JAMA July 5 2000;284:72-78.


(3) van Hylckama Vlieg A, et al. Venous thrombotic risk of oral contraceptives, effects of oestrogen does and progestogen type: results of the MEGA case-control study. BMJ 2009;339 doi: 10.136/bmj.b2921.


(4) Lindegaard O, et al. Risk of venous thromboembolism from use of oral contraceptives containing different progestogens and oestrogens. Danish cohort study 2001-9. BMJ 2011;343:d6423.


(5) Wang CC, et al. Risk of HIV infection in oral contraceptive pill users: a meta-analysis JAIDS 1999;May 1 21(1):51-58.


(6) Franceschi S, et al. Genital warts and cervical neoplasia: an epidemiological study. Br J Cancer 1983;48:621-28.


(7) Kahlenborn C, et al. Oral contraceptive use as a risk factor for premenopausal breast cancer: A meta-analysis. 2006 Mayo Clinic Proc 2006;81(10):1290-1302.


(8) IARC 2007 Monograph 91. Combined estrogen-progestogen contraceptives and combined estrogen-progestogen menopausal therapy. Available at:


(9) Dolle J,  et al. Risk factors for triple negative breast cancer in women under the age of 45. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2009;18(4):1157-65.


(10) Moreno V, et al. Effect of oral contraceptives on risk of cervical cancer in women with HPV infection. The IARC multicentric case control study. Lancet 2002;Mar 30;359(9312):1085-92.


(11) Hanneford PC, et al. Mortality among contraceptive pill users: cohort evidence from Royal College of General Practitioners’ Oral Contraception Study. BMJ 2010;340:c927.


(12) Roberts SC. 2010 March 13, letter to editor BMJ Rapid Responses re Hannaford study. available at:


(13) Roberts SC, Gosling LM, Carter V, Petrie M (2008) MHC-correlated odour preferences in humans and the use of oral contraceptives. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 275:2715-2722.


(14) Kellermann AL, et al. Men, women and murder: gender-specific differences in rates of fatal violence and victimization. J Trauma  1992;33:1-5.


(15) Kuukasja S. Attractiveness of women’s body odors over the menstrual cycle: the role of oral contraceptives and receiver sex. Behavioral Ecology 2004;Vol.15 No. 4:579–584.


(16) Wilks J. The impact of the pill. Ethics and Medicine 2000;16(1):5-22.


©2012  Breast Cancer Prevention Institute
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