Zimbabwe Official Tobaiwa Mudede Says Birth Control Causes Cancer (Spoiler: He's Wrong)
Last month, Zimbabwe's Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede celebrated Africa Day by... urging women not to use birth control, because it'd raise their risk of cancer. Shortly afterwards, non-partisan Africa Check ran its own analysis on Mudede's speech and found that Mudede's remarks on birth control were "misleading and alarmist." You don't say? Along with the cancer accusations, Mudede apparently said "the promotion of birth control measures is a 'ploy' by Western nations to retard population growth in Africa."And I mean, yes. Isn't that the point of birth control? To not have babies?
Well, it seems that Mudede takes particular issue with people not spreading their seed. “You want to be a super power, but you do not want to multiply,” he said in a speech on Africa Day. Wait... what?
Mudede's calls for progeny made the sweeping cancer claims all the more suspect. But anyway, Africa Check, even though they shouldn't have to do this anyway, took the time to look into the science behind the Mudede's claims. This is what they found:
- Well, first, the Registrar General's office declined to offer a transcript or sourcing of the speech to Africa Check. I wonder why?
- A "range of medical experts" weighed in on Africa Check's queries. Ultimately, some oral birth control does have sufficient evidence linking it to higher risks of breast, cervical and liver cancer.
- Margaret Urban, cancer epidemiologist and contraceptive researcher, suggests perhaps using a non-hormonal birth control if you have a family history of breast cancer, but notes that the studies done early were using much higher hormone doses.
- But the medical experts were also quick to note that the causes of cancer are complex, and that in some cases it has shown that hormonal injections can lower the risk for certain types.
- Your cancer risks will return to pre-use levels within a few years after you stop using contraceptives.
- Birth control can actually lower the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer after five years of usage.
- Ultimately, the World Health Organization determined that the benefits far exceed the risks with contraceptive use.
Access and education on birth control is particularly important in areas facing overpopulation. And for certain areas, as pointed out by Africa Check, the higher the birth rate in a country the higher the maternal mortality rate will be. But this is not the first time that there have been widespread misinformation about birth control to scare women out of taking it. For example...
- Being on the pill for a long time will make it harder for you to become pregnant later
- Birth control will make you gain weight
- Your body needs a "break" from birth control
- You can't use the pill over a certain age
Nooo. Just, no.