Birth control linked to 20% higher risk of breast cancer

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The study is not likely to impact clinical practice for mammograms or contraceptive use, but women should be aware of the new information, especially if there is a history of breast cancer in their family.

"Women in that age group [already] have a very low absolute risk of breast cancer", Gaudet said.

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 6, 2017 (HealthDay News) - Newer versions of the birth control pill carry a similar increased risk of breast cancer as earlier ones that were abandoned in the 1990s, a new study reveals.

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Officials with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said that they would carefully evaluate the new findings, but emphasized that hormonal contraceptives are for many women "among the most safe, effective and accessible options available".

Morch's team pored through years of electronic health records collected by the Danish health system, using prescription data to identify which women had taken the drugs and then track their health outcomes. 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. However, it was commonly thought that the newer low-dose estrogen options significantly decreased - or even eliminated - that risk.

"There had been some changes to oral contraceptive formulations in the '90s, and there was the hope those formulations would result in a lower risk of breast cancer", said Gaudet, who was not part of the study.

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The researchers found a similarly increased breast cancer risk in birth control pills that only contain progestin, as well as in IUDs that release progestin. "But we should make an individual assessment-doctor and a woman, together-to see what is the most appropriate thing for her to use". A large study of women in Denmark finds that using hormone-based contraceptives for at least 5 years increases the risk for breast cancer by 20%. That includes pills, patches, rings, implants or injections.

One thing reiterated by every doctor Newsweek spoke to: Women who are anxious about how their contraception might increase their risk of breast cancer should speak with their health care provider.

Weiss added that although the increased risk is small, it is measurable, and when you consider the number of people taking hormonal birth control (approximately 140 million people worldwide, including about 16 million in the United States) it amounts to a "significant public health concern". But by the time a woman reaches 40, her probability of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years is 1.45 per cent, or 1 in 69.

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"Nothing is risk-free, and hormonal contraceptives are not an exception to that rule", said Dr. Øjvind Lidegaard, the paper's senior author. But according to a new study, even the contraceptives with lower dosages of estrogen still come with a slightly increased chance of breast cancer.

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