Hormonal birth control linked to uptick in breast cancer cases
Hormonal birth control linked to uptick in breast cancer cases
The Pill comes with a small risk of breast cancer: How worried should women be?
08 December, 2017, 01:12
It's always been known that hormonal contraception, like any medicine, carries some risks.
She said women now using hormonal birth control methods should certainly not panic and if they have concerns, it's best to talk to their doctor about their individual risks and develop a plan that's right for them.
Two types of birth control pills are sold in the USA - one that combines synthetic versions of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and the "minipill" that only delivers progestin, a synthetic formulation of progesterone. Because of fewer users, the results for the patch, vaginal ring, implant and progestin shot were less clear, but the analysis didn't rule out an increased breast cancer risk for those methods.
That may sound scary. That roughly translates to a 12 percent lifetime risk for a woman, although many factors affect breast cancer risk. The illness is fairly rare among women in the age group studied.
"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. But they stress there is no need for most women to abandon birth control pills for fear of breast cancer. And there's a strong suggestion they also reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
"And there is also the reassuring thought that oral contraceptive use may decrease the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer".
While the study had a huge amount of participants, because it was only observational, some other experts are saying that it can not conclusively find a link between hormonal contraception and the development of breast cancer.
"It's small but it's measurable, and if you add up all the millions of women taking the pill, it is a significant public health concern", Dr. Weiss added.
"The researchers saw a 9% increased breast cancer risk among women taking hormonal contraceptives for under a year, rising to 38% if more than 10 years.Among women who had been using hormonal contraceptives for more than five years, a slight risk persisted for at least five years after they stopped, according to the study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine". Any woman's risk of breast cancer goes up as she gets older.
The new study looked at all women in Denmark ages 15 to 49 who had not had cancer, clots in their veins, or treatment for infertility.
Researchers followed more than 1.8 million women for an average of eight years.
Certainly, even one case is important to the woman who is that one case.
NEIGHMOND: Hormonal contraception releases estrogen, progestin or a combination of both to suppress ovulation and prevent pregnancy. They looked at all birth control methods that release hormones.
Breast cancer death rates have declined nearly 40 percent between 1989 and 2015.
"Unfortunately this was not the case and additional research is needed to tweak the formulation". "Gynecologists just assumed that a lower dose of hormone meant a lower risk of cancer. But we should make an individual assessment-doctor and a woman, together-to see what is the most appropriate thing for her to use".
Despite the risk, women will continue to use the pharmaceuticals, Morch said.
However, the overall increased risk was small, amounting to one extra case of breast cancer among 77,000 women using contraceptives per year.
MORCH: So it has to be balanced - the pros and cons of these contraceptives.
About 140 million women use some type of hormonal contraception, including about 16 million in the United States.
It is important to note that the study could not take into account other factors of the female participant. What they should know, however, is that the longer they take them, the greater the chance they will develop breast cancer. Morch suggests women over 40 discuss possible alternatives with their doctor.
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