Used to be women only got stretch marks from carrying children. Now we're getting them for trying not to have kids at all. Women were pulled one way in October by a surprising...

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Used to be women only got stretch marks from carrying children.

Now we’re getting them for trying not to have kids at all.

Women were pulled one way in October by a surprising study that said oral contraceptives cut the risk of heart disease, and did not increase the risk of breast cancer.

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The study by Wayne State University researchers made national news, since it challenged long-held medical beliefs about the pill.

On Wednesday we got yanked back the other way, when federal officials debunked the Wayne State study, saying that its heart-related findings were flawed and the breast-cancer findings were inconclusive.

For the millions of women who take the pill, the back and forth left a mark.

And now we’re back to wringing our hands with worry over what we take today could take from us tomorrow.

The feds about-face also set the stage for the American Life League to do a bit of scolding about women and choice.

League President Judie Brown issued a statement calling for “a realistic examination of what the pill does to preborn human beings during their first week of life, and what it does to women.”

(Hey, thanks for squeezing us on there, Ms. Brown!)

What a gift it would be if women’s bodies were a little easier on women’s minds.

What comfort and joy it would bring if the medical community took a little more time to get it right, and made sure research results were peer reviewed before they were released to the masses.

It’s not just the pill. It’s hormone-replacement therapy. And it’s not just women. It’s Vioxx and now Celebrex.

Just last month, the Food and Drug Administration pulled a female testosterone patch readied for market, saying the risks weren’t clear. It could raise your libido (Yeah!) but could also jack up your cholesterol (Oh).

“It’s true; we’re getting whiplash,” said Cynthia Smyth, an internist with Minor & James Medical in Seattle.

Smyth is used to the push-pull that studies do on our bodies and brains and says that it’s up to us to stay informed and weigh the risks with the advantages. All doctors can do is make sure patients have the numbers they need.

Smyth subscribes to three medical journals to keep up with the studies. It’s hard work. But so is science.

“All I can say is that researchers are trying to get it right,” Smyth said.

Still, she cautioned me about giving women “the short end of the stick.”

“I still would rather be a woman,” Smyth said, noting that when she went to her 10-year medical-school reunion, the female doctors looked better than the men.

That may be because we are ingrained at an early age to go to the doctor more regularly, she said. We get things checked more.

Any risks associated with doing that, doctor?

“Well,” she said, “we worry a little more, too.”

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or nbrodeur@seattletimes.com.

She’s upped her dose of Skittles.