Harm from Hormones - The Bitter Pill
The website of Dr Ellen Grant
The Contraceptive Pill and HRT cause many serious illnesses with three times more deaths in young women "pill" takers than in young non-takers (as shown in the world's largest "pill" study from the Royal College of General Practitioners).
Contraceptive and HRT hormones increase the risk of serious illnesses - not only as Pills but also as jabs, implants, gels and hormone-containing IUDs (intra-uterine devices).
What makes these hormones so dangerous? Pill hormones (progestogens and oestrogens) are steroid ‘messengers’ which pass to all parts of the body and powerfully influence ALL BODY SYSTEMS.
Increases in pill hormone taking increases cancers. These include breast cancers, carcinoma-in-situ (positive smears), cervical, ovarian, as well as many other cancers. Rises and falls in breast cancer with changing hormone use since 1962 are shown in the slides from Review Lecture
1 Click here.
Use of such inaccurate data has even resulted in false claims of benefit in cancers which are relatively rare in young women. Unfortunately, it is widely believed that contraceptive hormones (even if taken for a short time during the past 20 years!) can prevent ovarian cancer even though this cancer can be caused by the same hormones when taken as HRT.
Also, different doctors may be involved at different stages of an illness e.g. the GP or family planning doctor prescribes the contraceptive hormone, an oncologist treats the cancer, a psychiatrist may treat the depression and a social worker may be involved in the problems resulting from violence and family break-up . This specialization may distance doctors from the overall picture and make it more difficult for them to distinguish cause and effect of illness linked to contraceptive hormones.
The harm from contraceptive hormones suffered by women, children and families is being tolerated because of flawed research, spin and concerns about overpopulation
Doctors have given women these hormones for decades for illnesses caused by taking the Pill in the first place. Most doctors believe that preventing pregnancy outweighs the risks of taking hormones. In spite of this, teenage pregnancies have continued to increase because of earlier age of first sex & more sexual partners - so Pill hormones are now being given out by school nurses and pharmacists. Also, very powerful long-acting (progestogen) contraceptives are being recommended because pills can be missed or stopped for side effects; but side effects of long-acting drugs may not be easily reversed.
INCREASES IN HORMONE TAKING INCREASES CANCERS
What makes Pill hormones so dangerous? Pill hormones (progestogens and oestrogens) are steroid messengers and powerfully affect ALL BODY SYSTEMS. Steroids can suppress some warning symptoms, like period pains or flushing, but underlying biochemical abnormalities can increase and cause illnesses.
Progestogens/progestins act like the natural hormone progesterone. High levels block ovulation and so prevent pregnancy. All contraceptive Pills, depot implants, injections or progestogen IUDs, patches or creams mostly act like progesterone.
Fundamental discoveries in the 1960s revealed that harmful effects of contraceptive pills are due to the normal biological actions of progesterone and oestrogen being exaggerated and prolonged. Pills containing a powerful progestogen and a low dose of oestrogen resulted in a thin womb lining and scanty periods, but blood vessels overgrew especially in women
with migraine headaches. Premenstrual symptoms lasted for weeks instead of days as depression, loss of libido & violence related to prolonged increases in monoamine oxidase (MAO) enzymes. (MAO inhibitor drugs are antidepressants.) Dilated veins in the womb and blood clotting changes signalled increased thrombosis risk.
Other proven side effects are marriage break-ups (doubled), hypertension, heart attacks, sore breasts, breast lumps, sore legs, leg cramps, pulmonary emboli, irregular bleeding or no periods (even sometimes extending into a premature menopause); also post-pill infertility (sometimes increasing use of IVF for pregnancy) or miscarriages. Metabolic changes increase the risk of weight gain and diabetes. In many hormone takers, mineral deficiencies decrease secretion of digestive enzymes from the pancreas which impairs absorption of essential nutrients from the gut.
The Combined Pill contains both progestogen and oestrogen hormones.
High enough doses of progestogens prevent ovulation and pregnancy. Oestrogen doses were lowered because oestrogen causes womb cancer and blood clots. Subsequently newer progestogens were more powerful
at lower doses. Such newer pills, called second and third
generation pills, actually caused more strokes and thrombosis than older pills.
Numerous conditions which were rare or unheard of in the 1950s before the Pill, when I was a medical student, affect many more young women than young men e.g. ME (chronic fatigue syndrome) and eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia); also autoimmune diseases such as MS (multiple sclerosis), SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus) and APS (antiphospholipid syndrome). In women who develop APS, an increased risk of contraceptive hormone-induced thrombosis continues post-pill. This results in recurrent thrombosis and recurrent miscarriages due to “sticky blood”. In children, allergies, dyslexia, autism and behaviour disorders including ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) have all increased at the same time as early age and longer Pill use has increased before pregnancy. This is likely to relate to zinc and magnesium deficiencies and toxic metals. See details in next paragraph.
In pregnancy, the effects of raised levels of progesterone and oestrogen are controlled by the body’s automatic feedback mechanisms. However contraceptive hormones disturb automatic safety controls. Mineral (eg zinc and magnesium) & vitamin deficiencies are increased by hormone use and toxic metals (from nickel jewellery or dental braces, mercury fillings or cadmium from smoking) accumulate and damage cell functions*. Women taking hormones are more likely to have toxic metals or oxidation chemicals stuck on or adducted to their DNA causing chromosome and gene changes which can be passed down through the generations. They also tend to have impaired liver clearance of other environmental chemicals including pesticides which have oestrogenic activity. Blood tests for these abnormalities are available for doctors and their patients at some laboratories. (Review lecture 2) Click here
Fertility hormones (IVF) have similar risks and there are large increases in thromboembolism risks in the first three months of a pregnancy which follows IVF (Hendriksson P et al BMJ 2013:346 e8632).
Taking progesterone in pregnancy risks sexual (including homosexuality) and other developmental abnormalities for the child. “Unexplained” recurrent miscarriages or premature labour are usually due to treatable mineral and vitamin deficiencies, toxic metals and infections; all more likely in past pill takers. Good preconception care does not usually need further hormone taking.
Contraceptive studies have confused the issues. Over 60 medical conditions increased in takers in the first few years of the world's largest Pill study (Royal College of GPs). Surprisingly, health benefits were claimed (even though one in three women had left the study and many younger never-takers were switched to be Pill-takers to replace losses). Women who ever took the Pill were three times more likely to die before age 30. Violent deaths were still increased for up to 40 years. Ever taking the Pill for 44 months was claimed to prevent premature deaths because of a crucial mistake of not recording recent hormone use in the last 10 years of the study, when 75% of the deaths occurred. Half of menopausal women are likely to have taken Pill hormones again, this time as HRT. Combined HRT has been proved to increase deaths.
Studies have underestimated risks because most women have taken hormones at sometime in their lives and few controls were genuine never-takers. Even so, the American WHI randomised study has proved that Combined Progestin/estrogen Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) should not be used because of rapid increases the commonest cancer (breast), the commonest cause of cancer deaths (lung), strokes and heart attacks. In January 2010, The Lancet Home Page quoted from Doctor Grant's correspondence that 'there is no valid reason for taking HRT, which is now dead and should be buried'.
BUT combined HRT has the same actions as the Pill
IF HRT IS TOO DANGEROUS TO USE SO ARE CONTRACEPTIVE HORMONES
NB Contraception without hormones includes delaying age of first vaginal intercourse; male or female condoms, diaphragm/cap with spermicidal creams, natural family planning/ fertility awareness method (all with some risk of pregnancy); IUDs (risk of bleeding, infection & ectopic pregnancy); or tubal ligation and vasectomy.
1. www.pubmed.gov Insert Grant EC
2. www.bmj.com Home page – Top right hand corner
4. www.thelancet.com Home Page
List of published research
1. Mears E, Grant ECG. "Anovlar" as an oral contraceptive. BMJ 1962; 2: 75-79
2. Grant ECG. The effects of oral contraceptives on the endometrium. 1964 Proc Soc for the Study or Fertility, Oxford Meeting p275-6
3. Grant ECG. Hormone balance of oral contraceptives. JObstetGynaecolBritComm 1967;74:908-18
4. Grant ECG. Relation of arterioles in the endometrium to headaches from oral contraceptives. Lancet 1965;1:1143-44
5. Grant ECG, Mears E. Mental effects of oral contraceptives. Lancet 1967;1:945-46
6. Grant ECG. Relation between headaches from oral contraceptives and development of endometrial arterioles. BMJ 1968;3:402-5
7. Grant ECG. Headache on the pill. BMJ 1968;3:619
8. Grant ECG, Pryce Davies J. Effect of oral contraceptives on depressive mood changes and on endometrial monoamine oxidase and phosphatases. BMJ 1968;3:777-80
9. Southgate J, Grant ECG, Pollard W, Pryse Davies J, Sandler M. Cyclical variations in endometrial monoamine oxidase: Correlations of histochemical and quantitative biochemical assays. Biochemical Pharmacology 1968;17:21-26
10. Grant ECG. Venous effects of oral contraceptives. BMJ 1969;2:73-7
11. Mears E, Vessey MP, Andolsek L, Oven A. Preliminary evaluation of four oral contraceptives containing only progestogens. BMJ 1969;2:730-34 (Grant ECG-pathology )
12. Changing oral contraceptives. BMJ 1969;4:789-91 & Today's Drugs
13. Grant ECG. Monoamine oxidase and migraine. Lancet 1974;2:1449
14. Grant ECG. Contraceptives and health. BMJ 1974;3:115-6
15. Grant ECG, Carroll JD, Goodwin P, Pryse-Davies J. Hormones and headaches in women. In Background to Migraine,6th Migraine Symposium, Migraine Trust, London 1974 p7
16. Grant ECG. The influence of hormones on headache and mood in women. Hemicrania 1975;6:2-10
17. Glover V, Merton S, Grant ECG et al. Transitory decrease in platelet monoamine oxidase activity during migraine attacks. Lancet 1977;1:391
18. Grant ECG, Albuquerque M, Steiner TJ, Rose FC. Oral contraceptives, smoking and ergotamine in migraine. In Current Concepts in Migraine Research. Ed. Greene R. Raven Press, New York 1978 pp97-100
19. Grant ECG. Oral contraceptives, smoking, migraine and food allergies. Lancet 1978;2:581-2
20. Grant ECG. Monoamine-oxidase activity in migraine. Lancet 1978;2:679
21. Grant ECG. Creatures of the moon .BMJ 1978;1:165
22. Grant ECG. Food allergies and migraine. Lancet 1979;1:966-69
23. Grant ECG .Food allergy and migraine Lancet 1979;2:358-59
24. Capel ID, Grant ECG, Dorrell HM, Pinnock MH, Clifford Rose F, Williams DC. Disturbed liver function in migraine patients. Headache 1979;19:270-272
25. Grant ECG, Clifford Rose F. Smoking and migraine. In Smoking and Arterial Disease Ed Greenhalgh RM, Pitman Medical 1981 pp29-34
26. Capel ID, Pinnock MH, Dorrell M, Williams DC, Grant ECG. Comparison of concentrations of some trace, bulk and toxic metals in the hair of normal and dyslexic children. Clin Chem 1981;28:879-80
27. Grant ECG. The harmful effects of common social habits, especially smoking and using oral contraceptive steroids, on pregnancy. Int J Environ Studies 1981;17:57-66
28. Grant ECG. Treatment of migraine. Lancet 1982;2:43
29. Grant ECG. Environmental and pollutional effects on the learning skills of young children. Dyslexia Review 1982;5:29-31
30. Grant ECG. Oral contraceptive steroids and malignancy. Editorial. Clin Oncology 1982;8:97-102
31. Grant ECG. Allergies smoking and the contraceptive pill .In Biological Aspects of Schizophrenia and Addiction.1982.Ed Hemmings G, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester pp263-72
32. Grant ECG. Migraine, headaches and survival in women. BMJ 1983;287:1718
33. Grant ECG. The contraceptive pill and its relation to allergy and illness. Nutrition and Health 1983;2:33-40
34. Grant ECG. Recent advances in understanding toxic and teratogenic effects of hormones. In The Next Generation: Avoiding damage before birth in the 1980s Foresight 1983
35. Grant ECG. Cervical cancer and oral contraceptives. Lancet 1983;1:528
36. Grant ECG. Cancer and the pill. The Ecologist 1984;14:68-76
37. Barnes B, Grant ECG et al. Nutrition and preconception care .Lancet 1985;2:1297
38. Grant ECG, Howard JM, Davies S, Chasty H, Hornsby B, Galbraith J. Zinc deficiency in children with dyslexia: concentrations of zinc and other minerals in sweat and hair. BMJ 1989;296:607-9
39. Grant ECG. The causes of migraine ( Zn-Mg-). Les internationaux entretiens de Monaco.1989 Editions du Rocher,141-147
40. Grant ECG. Why women should not be given HRT. Br J Hosp Med 1989;41:590 and 42:159
41. Grant ECG. Nutritional deficiencies and hidden infections in preconception couples. Paper presented at BSANM conference 1990
42. Grant ECG.General discussion in Hormone Replacement Therapy and Breast Cancer Risk. Ed.RD Mann, Parthenon 1992
43. Grant ECG. Oral contraceptives off prescription. Lancet 1993;341:564
44. Grant ECG. Long-term dangers of hormonal treatment. Lancet 1994;343:926
45. Grant ECG. Oral contraceptives and the risk of breast cancer. Lancet 1994;344:1364
46. Grant ECG. The effects of exogenous sex hormones on women's health.1994 BSAENM meeting proceedings
47. Grant ECG. The declining health of the pill generations. J Nutr Med 1994;4:283-86
48. Ward N. Preconceptional care and pregnancy outcome. J Nutr Med 1995;5:205-6 (Grant ECG-contributor)
49. Price EH, Little HF. Women need to be fully informed about the risks of hormone replacement therapy. BMJ 1996;312:130
50. Grant ECG , Anthony HM, Myhill S, Price E, Steel CM .Breast cancer and hormone exposure. Lancet 1996;348:682
51. Price EH, Little HF, Grant ECG, Steel CM. Women need to be informed about the dangers of hormone replacement therapy. Lancet 1997; 314:
52. Grant ECG. Third generation oral contraceptives and venous thrombosis. Lancet 1997;349:733
53. Organised BSAENM RSM London Meeting, June 1997.Edited proceedings - Journal of Nutrition and Environmental Medicine 1998; 8 :2
54. Grant ECG. The pill, hormone replacement therapy, vascular and mood over-reactivity , and mineral imbalance .J Nutr Environ Med 1998;8:105-116
55. White M, Grant ECG. Addiction to oestrogen and progesterone. J Nutr Environ Med 1998 ; 8 :117-120
56. McLaren Howard J, Grant ECG, Davies S. Hormone replacement therapy and osteoporosis: bone enzymes and nutrient imbalances. J Nutr Environ Med 1998; 8: 129-138
57. Grant ECG. The Hughes (Anti-phospholipid) Syndrome. J Nutr Environ Med 1998; 8:1 59-167
58. Grant ECG. Thrombosis and heart attacks with contraceptive and menopausal hormones. J Nutr Environ Med 1998; 8:159-167
59. Grant ECG Hormones and female cancers. Presented at BSAENM Conference, Oxford 1998
60. Grant ECG, Steel MC, Price EH, Anthony HM, Downing D, Radcliffe MJ, Myhill S. Medical profession needs to examine facts. BMJ 1999; 319: 387
61. Grant ECG , Price EH, Steel M C .Risks of hormone replacement therapy. Lancet 1999; 354: 1302-3.
62. Grant ECG. Unconventional approaches to nutritional medicine. BMJ 2000; 7248: 1538.
63. Grant ECG. Dangers of suppressing menstruation. Lancet 2000; 356:513.
64. Grant ECG. Contraceptive pills and HRT as main risk factors for breast cancer. Electronic rapid response for Watts G. Of pills and ills. BMJ 2000; 321: 1042 (7/11/2000).
65. Grant ECG. Steroid sex hormone suppression of symptoms. Electronic rapid response for Rymer J , Morris EP. Extracts from “Clinical Evidence” :BMJ 2001;7275: 1516-19. (4/1/01)
66. Grant ECG. Adverse reactions and emergency contraception. Lancet 2001; 357:1203.
67. Grant ECG. Zinc is an essential nutrient. Electronic rapid response to Dunea G. Au zinc. BMJ 2001; Jan.
68. Grant ECG. Systemic lupus erythematosus. Lancet 2001 358:586.
69. Grant ECG. Two electronic rapid responses to Dixon JM. Hormone replacement therapy and the breast. BMJ 2001;7326: 1381-2. (bmj.com 15/12/01)
70. Grant ECG. Hormone replacement therapy and risk of breast cancer. JAMA. 2002 May 8;287(18):2360; author reply 2361.
71. Grant ECG. Mega dose contraception Electronic rapid response to Graham A, Moore L, Sharp D, Diamond I. Improving teenager’s knowledge of emergency contraception: cluster randomised controlled trial of a teacher led intervention. BMJ 2002 ; 324:1179-83.
72. Grant ECG. Hormone replacement therapy and individual cardiovascular risk. N Eng J Med 2002;347:762-3.
73. Grant ECG. Avoid hormones in gastrointestinal angiodysplasia.Lancet 2002; 360:1254.
74. Grant ECG. Clinical review of headache. Rapid response to Steiner TJ, Fontebasso M. Headache BMJ 2002;325:881-6.( bmj.com 29/10/02)
75. Grant ECG. Hormones for coronary disease. Lancet. 2003 Feb 15;361(9357):612.
N Engl J Med. 2002 Sep 5;347(10):762-3; author reply 762-3.
79. Grant ECG.Hormone replacement therapy and risk of breast cancer.
JAMA. 2002 May 8;287(18):2360; author reply 2361.
80.Grant ECG. Developmental dyslexia and zinc deficiency.Lancet. 2004 Jul 17-23;364(9430):247-8.
81 Grant ECG. Reduction in mortality from breast cancer: fall in use of hormones could have reduced breast cancer mortality. BMJ. 2005 Apr 30;330(7498):1024; author reply 1025. PMID:Free PMC Article
82. Grant ECG. Mortality associated with hormone replacement therapy. J Gen Intern Med. 2005 Feb;20(2):212.
82.Grant ECG. Mortality associated with hormone replacement therapy.
J Gen Intern Med. 2005 Feb;20(2):212. Free PMC Article
83. Grant ECG. Developmental dyslexia and zinc deficiency.
Lancet. 2004 Jul 17-23;364(9430):247-8.
84. Grant ECG. Estrogen plus progestin and colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women.N Engl J Med. 2004 Jun 3;350(23):2417-9; author reply 2417-9. Free Article
85. Grant ECG. Reader's response to "lymphangioleiomyomatosis".
MedGenMed. 2006 Mar 24;8(1):78; author reply 79. Free PMC Article
86. Grant ECG. Supplementing proven deficiencies of vitamins and minerals.
Lancet. 2006 Jul 29;368(9533):366.
87. Grant ECG.A sad day for science at the FDA.N Engl J Med. 2005 Dec 15;353(24):2619-21; author reply 2619-21.
88. Grant ECG.Lung cancer and hormone replacement therapy.
Lancet. 2010 Jan 9;375(9709):117; author reply 118-9. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)60040-2.
89 Grant ECG. Hormone replacement therapy: Irresponsible to modify current guidelines.BMJ. 2008 Sep 3;337:a1494. doi: 10.1136/bmj.a1494.
90. Grant ECG.Ovarian cancer and oral contraceptives.
Lancet. 2008 May 17;371(9625):1662. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(08)60719-9.
91. Grant ECG. Re: Breast cancer risk in relation to the interval between menopause and starting hormone therapy. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2011 Jul 6;103(13):1069; reply 1069-70. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djr191. Epub 2011 Jun 23.
92. Grant ECG, Price EH.. Oral contraceptives, nuns, and cancer..
Lancet. 2012 Jun 23;379(9834):2339-40; author reply 2340. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61015-0. Free Article
Also Searching www.bmj.com for Ellen CG Grant brings up about 400 of my BMJ publications including articles, letters and electronic rapid responses.
Grant, E advanced Search
Out of print but copies in National Libraries and at Amazon
Book Titles Publisher Year
1 The bitter pill: how safe is the perfect contraceptive? Elm Tree 1985
2 The bitter pill: how safe is the perfect contraceptive? Corgi 1986
3 Sexual chemistry: understanding your hormones Cedar 1994
Disclaimer: The information on this website has been produced with care. However, no responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the information included or omitted can be accepted by the author or the website developers.