Science and Tech

Actions

Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Previous studies have made the link between birth control and breast cancer, but the latest makes the link to high-estrogen oral contraceptives.
Posted at 9:05 AM, Aug 01, 2014

A new study published in the journal Cancer Research is linking certain types of oral contraceptives to a higher risk of developing breast cancer. (UCI UC Irvine / CC BY NC ND 2.0+mara / CC BY NC ND 2.0)

Past studies had already made a link between oral contraceptives, AKA "the pill," and breast cancer. 

The American Cancer Society says women who use the pill are at a greater risk for breast cancer. But that the risk can even out again once use of the contraceptive is stopped. 

But this latest study specifically links oral contraceptives with high estrogen levels to breast cancer. Researchers looked at the records of more than 1,000 women with breast cancer between the ages of 20 and 49. (Via American Association for Cancer Research)

Time points out the numbers were actually pretty drastic.

"Compared to women who formerly used birth control pills or never used them, the risk for breast cancer was increased by about 50% for women who did."

It was pills high in estrogen that were deemed the highest risk. Medical News Today explains it's basically too much of the hormone — even though that hormone is natural.

"It is well established that estrogen and progesterone that occur naturally in the body can increase the risk of some cancers. Some studies have suggested that man-made versions of the hormones found in oral contraceptives can have the same effect."

But of course, there's always a flip side...

"Researchers say that their findings need to be confirmed and stress that breast cancer is rare in young women and that oral contraceptives have many health benefits." (Via KHOU)

And according to WebMD, oral contraceptives can actually decrease your risk for ovarian cancer.