Archive of January 5, 2014

Study finds contraceptives boost breast cancer risk

New Delhi, India, Jan 5, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - A study by doctors in India suggests that women who regularly use oral contraceptives face almost ten times greater risk of developing breast cancer compared to other women.

“We found long-term use of oral contraceptive pills higher among those suffering from breast cancer-11.9 percent – compared to healthy individuals—1.2 percent,” Dr. Umesh Kapil, a professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences’ public health nutrition unit, told the Times of India.

The study, published in the Indian Journal of Cancer, included 640 women, of whom 320 were breast cancer patients. Researchers found a breast cancer risk 950 percent – 9.5 times – higher in women with a history of using oral contraceptives.

Kapil said breast cancer is caused by repeated exposure of breast cells to ovarian hormones. The contraceptive pills’ estrogen and progesterone may increase this risk through hormonal imbalances.

Dr. G. K. Rath, the head of Bhim Rao Ambedkar Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, said the relationship between contraceptive use and breast cancer occurrence is not known.

“But there is enough evidence to show the hormonal imbalance caused by them, increasing the risk,” Rath said.

The doctor said other important factors in breast cancer occurrence include early menarche, late marriage and childbirth, and abortions.

Dr. Ajeet Singh Bhadoria, a co-author of the study, suggested its findings could also be relevant to the use of morning-after pills, which contain a higher dose of hormones.

“Awareness about the side-effects of long-term use is a must,” he told the Times of India.

Some contraceptives are classified as carcinogenic by the World Health Organization and their use could increase risk for cervical and liver cancers.

Other studies have indicated that the contraceptive pill increases the risk of deadly blood clots and stroke.

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Pope: Christmas reveals God's 'immense love'

Vatican City, Jan 5, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis delivered his Sunday Angelus greeting to a packed St. Peter’s Square today, emphasizing the greatness of divine love revealed in God becoming man.

“The birth of Jesus shows us that God wanted to unite himself to every man and every woman, to each one of us, to communicate to us his life and his joy,” Pope Francis said Jan. 5.

“Thus Christmas reveals the immense love of God for humanity. From that flows also the enthusiasm, the hope of us Christians, that in our poverty we know that we are loved, we are visited, accompanied by God; and we see the world and history as the place in which we journey together with him and amongst ourselves, towards a new heaven and a new earth.”

As the Church continues to celebrate Christmas, he said, today’s reading from the Gospel of John speaks of Jesus incarnation as “the Word” who “became flesh and dwelt among us.”

“In these words, which never cease to amaze us, is all of Christianity!” exclaimed the Pope.

God “has shared our human condition, except for sin, but he took ours upon himself as if it were his own, he entered into our history, and became fully God-with-us!”

With the birth of Jesus, not only has a “new world” been born, but also “a world that can be constantly renewed,” explained the pontiff.

“God is always present to raise up new men to purify the world from sin that ages and corrupts it.”  

Despite the fact that human history in general and everyone’s personal history “can be marked by difficulties and weaknesses,” noted Pope Francis, “faith in the incarnation tells us that God is in solidarity with man and with his history.”

“This nearness of God to man, to each man, is a gift that never fades!” emphasized the Pope. “Jesus is patient. Jesus is waiting for us. He waits for us always. This is a message of hope, a message of salvation, ancient and always new and we are called to give witness with joy to this message the gospel of life, the gospel of light, of hope and of love, because the message of Jesus is this: life, light, hope, love.”

Even though many times “we prefer to stay in the closure of our mistakes and anguish of our sins,” acknowledged Pope Francis, “Jesus does not give up and never ceases to offer himself and his grace that saves us!”

Before leading the crowds in the traditional Marian prayer, the Pope asked for the Mother of God’s intercession: “May (she) always sustain us so that we remain faithful to the Christian vocation and we may carry out the desires for justice and peace that we carry with in us at the beginning of this new year.”

Pope Francis then expressed his gratitude for the many Christmas greetings he had received. “I would like to, but unfortunately, it is impossible to respond to everyone!”

“But I would like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, especially the children, for their beautiful drawings – but they really are, eh? The children sent beautiful drawings – beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!” he exclaimed.  

“I thank the children first, the youth, the elderly, the families, the parish and religious communities, the associations, the movements, and the diverse groups that wanted to show me affection and closeness.”

“I ask everyone to continue to pray for me – I have need of it – and to pray for this (my) service to the Church,” he requested.

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Pope Francis announces pilgrimage to Holy Land

Vatican City, Jan 5, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis has announced that he will make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land this coming May to mark a key moment in Catholic and Orthodox Christian relations.

“In this atmosphere of joy, typical of this Christmas time, I wish to announce that from 24 to 26 (of) next May, God willing, I will carry out a pilgrimage in the Holy Land,” he said after the Jan. 5 Sunday Angelus to the crowds filling St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis will meet with the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, during his May pilgrimage. Along with representatives of “all the Christian churches of Jerusalem,” the two leaders will celebrate an ecumenical meeting at the site of the Holy Sepulchre, which Christians revere as the place of Jesus’ burial prior to the Resurrection.

The Pope explained that the “principal goal” of the trip is “to commemorate the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch Athenagoras I, that occurred precisely on January 5, as today, 50 years ago.”

In January of 1964, Pope Paul VI traveled to the Holy Land. He met with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople on the Mount of Olives on January 5.

This historic meeting led to an improved relationship between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, including a momentous joint declaration issued in 1965. In that declaration both leaders expressed their desire “to overcome their differences in order to be again ‘one’ as the Lord Jesus asked of his Father for them.”

The Joint Catholic-Orthodox Declaration of His Holiness Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I lifted the centuries-long excommunications levied by the leaders of both Churches against each other in 1054. The excommunications helped finalize the schism between the major Churches of Eastern and Western Christianity.

In addition to Jerusalem, the Pope will also travel to Bethlehem and Amman, Jordan.

Patriarch Bartholomew I came to Rome for Pope Francis’s installation Mass in March 2013. During that visit, he asked the Pope to visit the Holy Land.

Pope Francis concluded his announcement with a request for spiritual support.

“Right now, I ask you to pray for this pilgrimage, which will be a pilgrimage of prayer,” he said.

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