A New Study Links Birth Control Pills and Breast Cancer

09 December, 2017, 13:37 | Author: Julian Swanson
  • Amanda Morris	
 
		Amanda Morris with her husband Christopher Bowen and daughters Jade and Hailey

Losing a stone and a half cuts a woman's risk of breast cancer by more than a third, according to data. She underwent a double mastectomy, then opted to go on the birth control pill to reduce her ovarian cancer risk while she and her husband considered surgery to remove her ovaries. Previous research has found a link between ongoing hormonal contraceptive use and breast cancer, points out Jack Jacoub, M.D., a medical oncologist and medical director of MemorialCare Cancer Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. "In the meantime, women who are using oral contraceptives might want to speak to their doctors about use before age 35 and after age 35".

Obesity has always been known to increase the risk of some cancers and scientists believe that weight could overtake smoking as the single biggest avoidable cause of the disease. Health experts who reviewed the study said that women should take this news and weigh it against the health benefits of the contraceptives, which include a lowered risk of cancers. The overall absolute increase in breast cancers diagnosed among current and recent users of any hormonal contraceptive was 13 per 100,000 person-years, or about 1 additional breast cancer per every 7,690 women using hormonal contraception for 1 year.

Women face a one-in-37 chance of dying from the disease, which, according to the ACS, is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women behind lung cancer.

But the study did not account for some other things that affect breast cancer risk, including physical activity levels and alcohol consumption. So how to balance the health-related benefits of birth control with the potential negatives, and what does this mean for the 62 percent of American women now using contraception?

Earlier this year, the world's longest-running study on the issue - The Royal College of General Practitioners' (RCGP) Oral Contraception Study, also carried out by the University of Aberdeen - examined the very long term cancer effects associated with the pill by following 46,000 women for up to 44 years. The risk for getting breast cancer was 9 percent higher for women who used birth control for less than one year and 38 percent higher for those who used it for more than 10 years. Most doctors think there are many benefits to birth control. She also urged women not to panic and reminded them that breast cancer in the under 50s is rare.

The study raised concerns for some Baltimore-area gynecologists, who said women should consult with their doctors if they were anxious about the correlation, particularly if they already had other risk factors for breast cancer.

'We'd encourage all women to speak to their doctor or family planning clinic when starting or stopping the pill to ensure they fully understand the benefits and risks and are able to make an informed decision that's right for them'. A study in a New England Journal of Medicine following almost 2 million women found their risk jumped 20 percent.

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