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Study finds hormonal contraception carries breast cancer risk

According to new research, all forms of hormonal contraception carry a small risk of breast cancer. This risk also lasts for about five years after women stop taking it.

This increased risk has been known for some time, however it was hoped that newer progesterone based forms of contraception would be safer. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine confirms the contraception increased a woman’s risk by 20%; however that is a very small amount for those not already at high risk.

The researchers followed up 1.8 million women in Denmark for nearly 11 years on average, with the results showing that the risk of breast cancer was higher in users of the pill or other forms of hormonal contraception, including IUDs for longer. It also showed a higher risk in women above the age of 40.

When looking at women who took the pill for five years, the study suggests that for every 15000 women, there would be one extra case of breast cancer.

Professor David Hunter of the Nuffield Department of Population Health explains that even though there are small risks with using the pill, they are easily offset by the benefits it offers. These benefits not only include unwanted pregnancies, but also a “substantial reduction in the rise of ovarian, endometrial, and colorectal cancers in later life.”

However he continues to call for greater efforts to be made to investigate the development of safer forms of the pill. “These data suggest that the search for an oral contraceptive that does not elevate the risk of breast cancer needs to continue. In the 1980s and 1990s, there was some optimism regarding the development of a formulation that would reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer, but research into this possibility appears to have stalled.”

It is advised that if any women are concerned about the risks that they should speak with their doctor before making any changes to their contraceptive plan.

Read more about the study: HERE

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