Birth control may increase chance of breast cancer by as much as 38%. The risk exists not only for older generations of hormonal contraceptives but also for the products that many women use today. Study used an average of 10 years of data from more than 1.8 million Danish women. | Amazing Articles
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Birth control may increase chance of breast cancer by as much as 38%. The risk exists not only for older generations of hormonal contraceptives but also for the products that many women use today. Study used an average of 10 years of data from more than 1.8 million Danish women.

Birth control may increase chance of breast cancer by as much as 38%. The risk exists not only for older generations of hormonal contraceptives but also for the products that many women use today. Study used an average of 10 years of data from more than 1.8 million Danish women.

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22 Comments


  1. tert_butoxide

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Commented this on the other thread, but why not here too.

    Interestingly, oral contraceptives *decrease* risk of [endometrial cancer](http://erc.endocrinology-journals.org/content/17/4/R263.long) by 50% and [ovarian cancer](http://www.sciencedirect.com.proxy.library.ohio.edu/science/article/pii/S0140673608601671) by up to 30%. (From a *much lower baseline;* those cancers have rates of 2.8 and 1.3% compared to breast cancer’s 12%.)

    I find this interesting because what’s good for the goose is *not* good for the gander. (If we can call any part of the female reproductive system a “gander.”)

    Reply

  2. smang_it_gurl

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    “The overall absolute increase in breast cancers diagnosed among current and recent users of any hormonal contraceptive was 13 (95% CI, 10 to 16) per 100,000 person-years, or approximately *1 extra breast cancer for every **7690** women* using hormonal contraception for 1 year.”

    Knowing the difference between absolute and relative risk is **imperative** when reading scientific literature.

    Reply

  3. NeedMoarLurk

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    There is a link between fertility/birth rates and breast cancer incidence, I wonder how much that has a confounding effect?

    Reply

  4. Avena_sativa

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    The wording of this article is kind of sensationalized. It’s important to distinguish between *absolute* versus *relative* risk increase when reporting the results. It sounds very sensational to say “the risk of breast cancer increased by 38%” but that doesn’t mean it increased by 38 percentage points. For example, let’s say that your risk of getting breast cancer as a 25-year-old is 1% per year. (It’s likely way lower than that.) Then let’s say you take a pill that increases your risk by 38% – now your chance of breast cancer is 1.38%, not 39%.

    Think of it this way: the chance of a young woman getting breast cancer is very low. Even if the risk doubled or tripled while on OCPs, the risk would *still* be very low.

    Source: Medical student who will still be taking her birth control pills.

    Reply

  5. CoinFlip_SkinnyDipp

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Serious question, wasn’t this already known?

    I’m currently taking pharmacology and our lecture that talked about birth control was only a few weeks ago. I swear my professor said that WHI did a study years ago and it showed an increase in breast cancer.

    Reply

  6. roaisol

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Does the paper address if the mechanism is via exogenous hormones or via fewer natural hormonal cycles?

    If the former, that’s yet another point in favor of IUDs, and hormonal IUDs prevent much bleeding while not having much in the way of systemic effects…

    The effects seem to slow down with more years on it, making me suspect that the exogenous hormones are the mechanism.

    Reply

  7. daniyellidaniyelli

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    “However, Lidegaard noted, pretty much everything in life carries risks and women know that.”

    When they say women know that, are they suggesting that we are educated on these risks of birth control before were given it? That doctors are educating their patients? I know I wasn’t. I felt lucky that the first birth control I was put on had no negative side effects and worked. But there was never a conversation about the risks. Now I’m wondering if this is normal or I don’t have a great doctor?

    Edit: Okay I do realize I have a good doctor. I also know it’s my responsibility to ask questions. I didn’t have any of the problems my family/friends did in finding a good bc so I thought I was good.

    And I just read over the packet I get with my bc (again) and there is no mention of cancer risks on there.

    Reply

  8. minpinerd

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    This is not news.

    We’ve known for years that estrogen was linked to breast cancer and that as a result the more periods you have the higher risk of breast cancer you have (thus having children and skipping 9 months of them reduces your risk and taking pills that guarantee them increases it).

    Reply

  9. drewiepoodle

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Link to abstract:- [Contemporary Hormonal Contraception and the Risk of Breast Cancer](http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1700732)

    Reply

  10. [deleted]

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    [removed]

    Reply

  11. a-bit-just

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    > The overall absolute increase in breast cancers diagnosed among current and recent users of any hormonal contraceptive was 13 (95% CI, 10 to 16) per 100,000 person-years, or approximately 1 extra breast cancer for every 7690 women using hormonal contraception for 1 year. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1700732

    For those saying “don’t risk it, just use condoms”:

    Pregnancy is pretty life-altering, not to mention carries substantial medical risks. Hormonal contraceptives also [lower]
    (https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/birth-control-cancer-which-methods-raise-lower-risk.html) your risk of some cancers, and for many women treat other conditions as well.

    For fun, lets say it’s definitely *exactly* 1 extra breast cancer case is diagnosed per 7690 women using hormonal contraceptives per year.

    Now look at https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/unintendedpregnancy/pdf/contraceptive_methods_508.pdf and, just for fun, assume these numbers are also exact.

    HORMONAL METHODS (typical use first year failure rates:) pregnancies per 7690 women within 1 year:

    – Nexplanon 3.845

    – Hormonal IUD 15.38

    – Depo shot 461.4

    – Pill/Patch/Ring 692.1

    NON-HORMONAL METHODS (typical use first year failure rates:) pregnancies per 7690 women within 1 year:

    – Copper IUD 61.52

    – Diaphragm 922.8

    – Male Condom 1384.2

    – Female Condom 1614.89

    – Withdrawal 1691.8

    – Fertility awareness methods 1845.6

    – Sponge, nulliparous 922.8

    – Sponge, parous 1845.6

    – Spermicide 2153.2

    Now, 1 in 7690 is still a number to think about, I’m not trying to dismiss it. I’m not a doctor, but I can say you should definitely talk to *your* doctor about your breast cancer risk and how birth control impacts it.

    But if “up to 38% increase!” seems scary, consider what your other options are, talk to your doctor, and make an informed decision based on all the risks and benefits in your situation. **There are other numbers at play.**

    Reply

  12. Maxdahustla

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    I think that it’s important to note that these pills are used for more than just contraceptive purposes as well, which seems to get overlooked a lot of the time

    Reply

  13. Ndemco

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    38% increase doesn’t mean if you had a 1% chance of getting breast cancer you now have a 39% chance. It means if you had a 1% chance of getting breast cancer you now have a 1.38% chance. Just want to clarify that for people who may have thought otherwise.

    Reply

  14. [deleted]

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    [removed]

    Reply

  15. [deleted]

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    [removed]

    Reply

  16. limache

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Please read the story, not just the headlines

    “In fact, **birth control increases breast cancer risk about as much as drinking alcohol does**, said Dr. Mary Beth Terry, an epidemiologist at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

    Relative to the increased risk posed by other environmental factors, like smoking for lung cancer—that’s about a 10 times greater risk—and having a human papillomavirus infection for cervical cancer—that may increase risk about 50 or 60 times—38 percent really isn’t that much. **”The range of risks we’re talking about here is much much smaller,” she said.”**

    Reply

  17. [deleted]

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    [removed]

    Reply

  18. blackdynomitesnewbag

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    I’m tired of seeing all of these headlines that talk about increased cancer risks without stating the baseline risk. So what if doing this thing increases your risk 100%. Twice as likely isn’t that much if the baseline risk is 1 out of one million.

    Reply

  19. Suggadaddysarah

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Does this count for the depo-provera shot? It says hormonal birth control but doesn’t specify

    Reply

  20. jflo_flosquared

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    I’d LOVE to not have to take birth control. Funding and awareness for male birth control is necessary for contraceptive measures. Why are there so many options for women, but none for men in terms of a hormonal birth control or a similar product? I read something about a gel that could be inserted into the vas deferens that would prevent pregnancy and removed when desired–yet women are still forced to use methods that are harmful? I’m only speaking in terms of contraception because I only use birth control to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

    Reply

  21. [deleted]

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    [removed]

    Reply

  22. Anonymous

    December 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

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