Hormones found in birth control pills could be polluting the water supply and increasing men’s risk of prostate cancer.
That’s the suspicion of Canadian researchers who found that countries that have the highest percentage of women using oral contraceptives also have the highest rates of men with prostate cancer. Women who take birth control pills excrete estrogen from the medication in their urine, which is recycled at sewage treatment plants and returned to the environment. Previous studies have shown that estrogen-like chemicals found in pesticides and plastics may cause a wide range of health problems, including prostate cancer. Low levels of those substances, called endocrine disrupters, are increasingly “ending up in our water systems,” suggesting that we can’t count on our wastewater treatment plants” to remove them, Fe de Leon, a researcher w at the Canadian Environmental Law Association, tells the Toronto Globe and Mail While “this study doesn’t establish cause and effect” between birth control pills and prostate cancer, says urologist David Margel of Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital, it drives home the need for further research into whether estrogen is passing from women into water supplies.