James Bradner of Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute may have stumbled upon the magic molecule for the male birth control pill. Though actually searching for an anti-cancer drug, Bradner inadvertently found that the molecule, JQ1, inhibited a protein in the testes vital to male fertility. JQ1 can pass through the blood stream and into the testes, meaning it can be delivered via a pill, injection, or even topical solution.
Molecule JQ1 Helping to Push for the the New Male Birth Control Pill
Bradner and Martin Mtzuk published their study in the journal Cell, writing, “In male studies, JQ1 accomplishes a complete and reversible contraceptive effect in males without adversely affecting testosterone levels or mating behaviors and without promoting obvious [birth defects] in offspring.” They report that the only known side effect is weight loss.
Meanwhile, women since the 1960s have dealt with a laundry list of side effects from the pill, which gives us an idea of what we can expect from the male birth control pill.
- Increased risk of breast and cervical cancers
- Increased risk of blood clotting, heart attack, and stroke
- Gall bladder disease
- Increased blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Mood changes
- Irregular bleeding or spotting
- Benign tumors
- Breast tenderness
- Yeast overgrowth and infection
- Depletion of essential nutrients like vitamin B
Admittedly, for many women the freedom of birth control and the relief of having a regular period far outweigh the side effects, real or perceived. On the other hand, holistic practitioners report that irregular periods can be symptoms of deeper, more serious problems which the pill can not and does not address. That condition may in fact worsen over time due to being ignored because the pill has eliminated the symptom.
Men may not have periods to worry about, but precaution must be used when reaching for any new pill. We hope that human studies for men adequately reveal long-term effects of what could be a disastrous molecule.
“As early as next year, we may have a sense of how well this works in humans,” Bradner says, adding that his team plans to aggressively pursue their original plans for a cancer drug.