Many women turn to birth control pills and other hormonal methods to prevent pregnancy. It has been known that some forms of hormonal birth control come with an increased risk of the woman being diagnosed with breast cancer.
The methods that were associated with this had higher levels of estrogen and progestin. Newer forms have less of these hormones and some don’t have estrogen at all. A researcher who was the lead author of a story noted that she was hoping to see different results when considering the risks of breast cancer with hormonal birth control.
Risk across the board
The study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine named implants, progestin-only pills, lower-estrogen pills, vaginal rings, and intrauterine devices as ones that all come with this risk. The study’s lead author noted that the risk isn’t something to lose sleep over because it is still a very low risk. The issue with this is that there is still a chance.
Methodology of the study
The study followed 1.8 million Danish women for around 11 years. This study, as well as previous research, found that hormonal birth control methods come with an increased risk of breast cancer of around 20 percent. When you look at the statistics, this means that one additional woman who was using hormonal contraception will be diagnosed with breast cancer for every 7,690 women who use these birth control methods.
Longevity of use matters
The longer you use birth control, as well as your age, can have an impact on the risk of breast cancer. Women who used the hormonal methods for more than a decade had a 38 percent risk increase. Those who used it for less than a year had only around a 9 percent risk increase.
The risk of breast cancer is greatest for women who are 50 years old and older. Since the risk already rises with age, some women might not decide that the increased risk is worth taking the pills or using other hormonal methods.
Another factor that can increase the risk of breast cancer is smoking. Women who are 35 years old, smoke, have a history of a cancer related to estrogen, have liver disease or have a history of blood clots are among those who shouldn’t use a birth control method containing estrogen.
This finding might make it difficult for women to decide what type of risk they are going to take. They should work together with a doctor to determine which options will have the least risk and the best benefits for the woman.