THERE are, as every responsible adult knows, many urgent reasons to practise safe sex. Even irresponsible teenagers -- we might as well be realistic here -- understand, at least in principle, why safe sex is a Good Thing, even though, like many responsible adults, they don't pay much attention to it when they get right down to the real nitty-gritty.
Among those good reasons that are so often ignored is the old hobgoblin of unwanted pregnancy that haunts us all -- or at least that haunts most of you since I have already had to deal with Accidental, Unexpected and Caboose, three of the finest children you would ever want to meet -- and, of course, the plethora of sexually transmitted diseases of varying degrees of deadliness that we and Mother Nature have collaborated in creating.
Now, a team of researchers at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto has come up with an even more compelling reason to practice safe sex or, perhaps, for men, at least, to just abandon the whole business completely.
As reported on BMJ Open, an on-line publication, doctors say there is evidence that women cause prostate cancer in men. Well, it is not precisely women that cause it. It is the birth control pills that many women use that are actually to blame.
"The Pill," as it has come to be fondly known, liberated women from the sexual tyranny of a society that saw them mainly as the breeders and carers of kids and allowed them finally to kick up their heels.
Most men didn't complain -- the Pill opened up vast new vistas for them too. Birth control pills, however, release estrogen into women's bodies and, through their excretion of bodily fluids, into the environment. Estrogen levels in areas where there is a high proportion of women on the Pill are measurably different from areas where birth control is little practised or other methods, such as IUDs and condoms, are more common.
The researchers found a correlation between the rates of prostate cancer in men and the use of the Pill by women. As the latter goes up, so does the former. The results are only tentative, so you don't have to plasti-wrap your girlfriend just yet. And don't go blaming her either. If you could be trusted to practise safe sex, she could give up the Pill. "Some people claim, there's a woman to blame," as the old Jimmy Buffett song goes, "but I know, it's my own damn fault."