Hormonal Birth Control: What You MUST KNOW about Increasing Breast Cancer Risk

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Risks of cancer caused by hormonal contraception were well-known and widely discussed before. But a recent study showed that women who are using hormonal birth control methods appeared to have up to 20 percent higher risk of breast cancer.

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Study results

All forms of the pill and other hormonal contraception including ring and implants carry a risk of breast cancer, which lasts for about five years after women stop taking it.

The new research was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. It was reported that 1.8 million women between the ages of 15 and 49 took part in the study that lasted for 11 years in Denmark. The women using hormonal contraception were opposed to those who relied on non-hormonal contraceptive methods, such as a condom, diaphragm or copper IUD. The risk of breast cancer was higher in participants over 40.

Lina Morch, a research epidemiologist at the University of Copenhagen, who led the study, also says it doesn’t matter what sort of hormonal method you are using. She and her colleagues found “a roughly 20 percent increased risk [of breast cancer] among women who currently use some type of hormonal contraception.” And the longer the women used hormonal methods, Morch says, the higher their risk.

Is it really scary?

Well, according to the Mia Gaudet, an epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society. 20 percent of the increase is a small figure as the is a small number of women who have breast cancer. The risk contributed by hormonal contraception, she says, is similar to the extra breast cancer risk contributed by physical inactivity, excessive weight gain in adulthood, or drinking an average of one or more alcoholic drinks per day.

“The absolute increase in risk [found in the study] is 13 per 100,000 women overall, but only 2 per 100,000 women younger than 35 years of age,” writes epidemiologist David Hunter, of the University of Oxford, in an editorial accompanying the study in NEJM.

“Most of the cases that occurred in this analysis occurred among women who were using oral contraceptives in their 40s,” Hunter says.

According to Hunter, there are also some benefits of using hormonal contraception:

“There’s very good evidence,” Hunter adds, “that oral contraceptives reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. They reduce the risk of endometrial cancer. And there’s a strong suggestion they also reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. So, many calculations suggest that the use of oral contraceptives actually prevents more cancers than it causes.”

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Studies must go on

According to the estimates from the National Institutes of Health, about 252,710 American women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017 and 12.4 percent of women will hear the diagnosis at some point in their lives. About 40,000 women died of breast cancer in 2017.

Meanwhile, the studies should continue, Professor David Hunter, of the Nuffield Department of Population Health says.

“These data suggest that the search for an oral contraceptive that does not elevate the risk of breast cancer needs to continue. In the 1980s and 1990s, there was some optimism regarding the development of a formulation that would reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer, but research into this possibility appears to have stalled,” he writes.

See also:

Revolution: First Baby Was Born After a Uterus Transplant in US (Infographic)

7 Shocking Healthcare Predictions for 2018 You Need to Know

Digital Pill – A Medical Miracle Or A Curse?

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Hormonal Birth Control: What You Must Know About Increasing Breast Cancer Risk
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Hormonal Birth Control: What You Must Know About Increasing Breast Cancer Risk
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Risks of cancer caused by hormonal contraception were well-known and widely discussed before. But a recent study showed that women who are using hormonal birth control methods appeared to have up to 20 percent higher risk of breast cancer.
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