The National Cancer Institute notes “A number of studies suggest that current use of oral contraceptives (birth control pills) appears to slightly increase the risk of breast cancer, especially among younger women. However, the risk level goes back to normal 10 years or more after discontinuing oral contraceptive use.” When my Mom was battling breast cancer that metastasized to her brain, bones, liver, and lungs, the first question every doctor asked was, “How long were you on the pill?” Attending many doctors appointments, my parents noticed a trend beginning to emerge, all pointing back to birth control. So what exactly constitutes a slight risk?
A recent study published August 1, 2014 by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center suggests that women taking oral contraceptives could face an increased breast cancer risk of 50% or higher. However, the study notes that this is specific to birth control that contains high doses of estrogen. In comparison, oral contraceptives with low estrogen did not increase the risk.
Dr. Elisabeth F. Beaber, the Fred Hutchinson staff scientist who led the study and a team from the University of Washington and the Group Health Research Institute “analyzed birth control prescription records from a large database of women enrolled in Group Health Cooperative, a Seattle-area health care system. They looked at 1,102 women aged 20 to 49 who developed breast cancer from 1990 to 2009 and compared their use of oral contraceptives with 21,952 women who remained cancer-free.
Compared with the control group, the women who had used birth control pills in the previous year had a 50 percent higher risk overall than women who had either never used the drugs or had used them in the past, Beaber said.
Birth control pills containing high-dose estrogen, 50 micrograms or more, boosted breast cancer risk nearly threefold and those that contained moderate-dose estrogen, 30 to 35 micrograms, increased the chances about 1.6 times, the researchers found.
In contrast, pills that delivered low-dose estrogen, 20 micrograms, didn’t increase the risk, the study showed.”
Dr. Owen Montgomery, a spokesman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, stated that in 2014, most women were likely receiving birth control with low to moderate estrogen levels. However, the article goes on to note another culprit of increased breast cancer risk are pills containing a type of progestin called ethynodiol diacetate and triphasic pills – those that deliver drugs in multiple doses or phases – that contained norethindrone.Instead, they noted, for instance, that drugs containing ethynodiol diacetate raised the risk of breast cancer by 2.6 times. One brand that contains that formulation is Zovia.
Other brands to watch out for include some of the most popular birth control prescriptions in the United States. The top-prescribed birth control pill is Sprintec 28, with some 4.8 million scripts issued in 2013. The drug includes norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol, which suggest a 20% increase in cancer risk, according to this study. Additional findings included the fifth most-prescribed pill, Loestrin 24 Fe. Last year more than 3 million prescriptions were issued. Loestrin 24 Fe contains norethindrone acetate, which was found to increase breast cancer risk by a startling 60%.
For more information, read the full article here: http://www.fhcrc.org/en/news/center-news/2014/08/Some-new-birth-control-raise-breast-cancer-risk.html