Austin doctors react to new study linking birth control to breast cancer

Amanda Morris	
 
		Amanda Morris with her husband Christopher Bowen and daughters Jade and Hailey

The study didn't find any big distinctions between the hormonal method women used-those who used combined oral contraceptives (which use estrogen and progestin) and those who used progestin-only methods each had a higher risk.

The study, which included about 1.8 million women in Denmark, found that those who used hormonal birth control methods were 20 percent more likely to develop breast cancer over an 11-year period, compared with those who never used hormonal birth control.

There were hopes that newer, low-dose birth control pills would be able to lower breast cancer risks, but these have been dashed, Gaudet said, who was also not involved in the study. Risks increased the longer an individual stayed on the pill, with the likelihood of breast cancer rising for those who had used the pill for over a decade, and women who used the pill for five years or more still had increased risks of cancer even after discontinued use.

The longer hormonal contraceptives are used, the greater the risk, although the study also found that the increased risk appears to disappear five years after women stop taking such forms of birth control. But if they had taken hormonal contraception for more than five years, the higher risk of breast cancer persisted for at least five years after their discontinuation of hormonal birth control, the study found. Using hormonal contraception for less than one year did not increase women's risk of breast cancer. Vigilance, including monthly self-checks, yearly appointments, and knowing your personal normal, has never been more central to women's breast health-or well-being.

"Progestin-only products also increased the risk of breast cancer", Morch said.

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The researchers tracked about 1.8 million women from 1995 through 2012 to see whether the lower amounts of estrogen helped reduce or eliminate the added breast cancer risk.

But zooming out to the public health level, this study is also an important reminder that women still bear the overwhelming responsibility for managing reproduction and the negative ramifications that come with it. Women research contraception.

"I do encourage people to talk with their doctor and not go running off their birth control", Hobart said.

The study also looked at younger people, when older people are more often diagnosed with cancer, Hobart said. "This should include consideration of other factors that have significant impact on the findings, including family history of breast cancer for both pre- and post-menopausal women, stage of disease and morbidity or mortality from the breast cancer diagnoses".

'If this suggestion is confirmed, then evidence indicates that, like previous generations of users, today's pill users do not increase their overall lifetime risk of cancer by choosing hormonal contraception. It had no role in the design, analysis or interpretation of the study, or in writing the paper. Such a study would be useful, he said, to show that hormonal contraception, "risks and all", may be essential to preventing pregnancy in some women with high risk for other medical conditions, such as diabetes.

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