THE contraceptive pill is polluting the environment and is in part responsible for male infertility, a report in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said on Saturday.
The pill "has for some years had devastating effects on the environment by releasing tonnes of hormones into nature" through female urine, said Pedro Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, president of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, in the report.
"We have sufficient evidence to state that a non-negligible cause of male infertility in the West is the environmental pollution caused by the pill," he said.
The article was promptly dismissed by several organisations.
"Once metabolised, the hormones contained in oral contraceptives no longer have any of the characteristic effects of feminine hormones," said Gianbenedetto Melis, vice-president of a contraceptive research association.
Hormones in the pill, such as oestrogen, "are present everywhere … in plastic, in disinfectants, in meat that we eat," said Flavia Franconi, of the Society of Italian Pharmacology.
In October, Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church's condemnation of artificial birth control.
Contraception "means negating the intimate truth of conjugal love, with which the divine gift (of life) is communicated" the leader of the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics wrote on the 40th anniversary of a papal encyclical on the topic.
An encyclical is a letter usually treating some aspect of Catholic doctrine and issued occasionally by the pope.
The landmark document, with a translated title in English of On the Regulation of Birth, was published at a time when the development of the pill was giving new sexual freedom to women across the world.
Millions of Catholics distanced themselves from Rome as a result.