Hormonal contraception can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer by a small amount. Depending on the type of contraceptive they use, this can vary. The advantages of birth control, on the other hand, frequently outweigh the disadvantages. Hormonal contraception, for example, may avoid unintended pregnancies and can also protect against other cancers.
Hormonal contraception appears to be linked to a small rise in the risk of breast cancer. This could be due to the fact that oral contraceptives use hormones to prevent women from being pregnant, which could overstimulate breast cells and raise the risk of breast cancer.
Other than oral contraception, there are other forms of birth control. Unintended pregnancies can be avoided without increasing the risk of breast cancer.
Hormonal contraception, on the other hand, can have certain health advantages, such as a lower risk of ovarian cysts and other cancers.
The relationship between birth control and breast cancer will be explored in this report. It will also clarify the advantages of hormonal contraception and provide some options to those who are concerned about the risks. It will also provide details on other breast cancer risk factors.
Is birth control linked to the development of breast cancer?
Hormonal contraception can slightly increase a person’s risk of breast cancer, according to a 2017 report.
A total of 1.8 million Danish females aged 15 to 49 took part in the survey. The women had never had cancer or had undergone fertility therapy.
The researchers discovered that women who used hormonal contraceptives had a significantly higher risk of breast cancer than women who did not. This suggested that one out of every 7,690 participants developed breast cancer.
Other factors, such as age, can influence a person’s risk of developing breast cancer, according to the researchers.
The risk of developing breast cancer was lower in participants under the age of 35. Just one out of every 50,000 women who had been using hormonal contraceptives for a year developed breast cancer.
After around 5 years, a person’s risk of breast cancer appears to return to normal if they avoid using hormonal contraceptives.
Females who still use or previously used contemporary hormonal contraceptives had a higher risk of breast cancer than those who had never used hormonal contraceptives.
Longer periods of usage increased the risk, but the actual increase in risk was minimal.
A type of multiphasic pill is the triphasic pill. According to a person’s period, it switches the hormone dose three times. Monophasic tablets, on the other hand, use the same dose of hormones during the cycle.
In a 2010 survey, 116,000 female nurses between the ages of 24 and 43 were followed. The investigation began in 1989. There was a small rise in the risk of breast cancer, according to the report. Those taking the triphasic pill were the ones that were most at risk.
Another 2014 research found evidence of a correlation between the triphasic pill and an increased risk of breast cancer.
While triphasic pills are still available, they have become less common in recent years. If people taking these pills are concerned about their cancer risk, they should see a doctor.
Is it possible for a woman with breast cancer to use birth control?
Breast cancer patients may want to avoid birth control pills or hormonal intrauterine products (IUDs). Since these approaches can influence the growth of tumour cells in people with hormone-sensitive cancers like breast cancer, they are not recommended.
An individual with breast cancer, on the other hand, has a variety of non-hormonal options.
Alternative methods of birth control
If an individual is concerned about the slightly increased risk of breast cancer associated with hormonal birth control, or if they need to avoid it because they have breast cancer, they could consider:
- Barrier methods: One of the many types of barrier methods available may be a safe alternative to hormonal contraception, such as: condoms, diaphragm, spermicide
- Non-hormonal IUDs: A non-hormonal IUD will prevent pregnancy while also lowering the risk of breast cancer.
- Permanent birth control surgery: If a person is certain they do not want to have children, they should look into the permanent surgical options available to those seeking alternatives to more temporary birth control methods. A man, for example, may consider a vasectomy.
Why should you use birth control?
The advantages of birth control frequently outweigh the risks, according to medical professionals. In the parts below, we’ll go through some of the possible advantages of birth control in greater depth.
Risks associated with pregnancy may be increased.
When compared to the socioeconomic and health threats that an accidental pregnancy will carry, the increased risk of breast cancer is negligible.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the maternal mortality rate in the United States was 26.4 deaths per 100,000 females in 2016.
This mortality rate is more than double the figures in the Danish report for increased breast cancer risk due to hormonal contraceptive use (13 additional cases for every 100,000 participants).
The birth control pill is 99.7% effective when taken according to directions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The risk of cancer is lower in general.
Some types of birth control have been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers in women. For example, a systematic review published in 2013 discovered that oral contraception can reduce a person’s risk of:
As a result, despite the slightly increased breast cancer risk, those who use hormonal contraceptives can have a lower overall cancer risk.
Other health benefits
Oral contraception may have additional health benefits, such as:
- a more consistent menstrual cycle
- Premenstrual syndrome symptoms are lessened.
- a lower chance of ovarian cysts
- endometriosis symptoms are reduced
- perimenopause symptoms are reduced,
- acne symptoms can improve
Breast cancer risk factors
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in American women, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Breast cancer is caused by a number of factors, including:
- Inherited risks: Risks from family history include mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
- Older age: Age is the main risk factor for breast cancer. The risk increases with advancing age.
- Personal history of breast cancer and breast cancer treatment: A person may be more at risk of breast cancer if they have ever had:
- invasive breast cancer
- ductal carcinoma in situ
- lobular carcinoma in situ
- benign breast disease
- radiation therapy to the chest or breast
- Menopause medications: A person who is using hormone replacement therapy for the symptoms of menopause may have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer.
People may take steps to reduce their risk of cancer by doing things like:
- stopping smoking, if applicable
- maintaining a moderate weight
- exercising regularly, where possible
- following a healthy diet
Hormonal contraceptives have been linked to a significantly increased risk of breast cancer, according to research.
Breast cancer is more likely in people who have other risk factors, such as advanced age, a family history of breast cancer, or a personal history of breast cancer.
Hormonal contraceptives, on the other hand, have certain health advantages, such as a lower risk of ovarian and uterine cancer. Whether or not they use hormonal contraception, young women in good health are at an average risk of breast cancer.
Non-hormonal birth control strategies, such as barrier methods, non-hormonal IUDs, or permanent options, such as surgery, may be used by people at greater risk of breast cancer and others who have breast cancer or have already recovered from it.
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- Beaber, E. F., et al. (2014). Recent oral contraceptive use by formulation and breast cancer risk among women 20 to 49 years of age [Abstract].
- Breast cancer prevention (PDQ)–Patient version. (2021).
- Is there a link between birth control and breast cancer? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/birth-control-and-breast-cancer?
- Do hormonal contraceptives increase breast cancer risk? (2017).
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- Gierisch, J. M., et al. (2013). Oral contraceptive use and risk of breast, cervical, colorectal, and endometrial cancers: A systematic review [Abstract].
- Hormonal contraception and the risk of breast cancer. (2018).
- Hunter, D. J., et al. (2010). Oral contraceptive use and breast cancer: A prospective study of young women [Abstract].
- Mørch, L. S., et al. (2017). Contemporary hormonal contraception and the risk of breast cancer.
- Nathan-Garner, L., et al. (2016) The pill and cancer: Is there a link?
- Pernambuco-Holsten, C. (2018). Birth control and cancer risk: 6 things you should know.