UNITED KINGDOM: A recent study found that both birth control with oestrogen and progesterone and birth control with just progesterone have signs of breast cancer. According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford, receiving intrauterine devices or progestin shots as well as taking pills increases a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.
The risk of breast cancer increases by 0.5% for women younger than 50 years, with the short-term use of combined and progestin-only contraceptives having lower risks for younger women, as per the study published in the journal PLOS Medicine.
Oestrogen and progestin are used in birth control to thicken the mucus in the cervix and stop the ovaries from putting out eggs. Most breast cancers are developed through these hormones. A researcher at the University of Oxford and the lead author of the study, Kirstin Pirie, MSc, stated, “We know quite a lot about the risks associated with combined oral contraceptive use, but progestogen-only contraceptives have been less well studied.”
Data was amalgamated by researchers from 1996 to 2017 from a UK primary care database that compared information from 9,498 women with invasive breast cancer with 18,000 women who were not diagnosed with cancer, where they found that 44% of the cancer patients were given hormonal birth control, as compared to 39% of women having no cancer who received a hormonal contraceptive. There are 256 breast cancer cases for every 100,000 users who are between 35-39 years old.
“It’s really important to know what the real risk is and that the benefits of birth control far outweigh the risks described in this paper and other research,” said Miraj Shah-Khan, MD, medical director of the Breast Health programme at Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital.
The development of breast cancer occurs for a lot of reasons, like age, genetics, and environmental exposure. In light of this, the researchers mention that their research was elaborate to answer for differences in family history and that more research must take place for patients who already have high breast cancer risks.
Shah-Khan said that oral contraception can be used to deal with women who are at higher risks for breast cancer, like BRCA 1 or BRCA 2. Khan said, “Looking at the body of literature as a whole, I think it’s important to keep in mind that this association exists, but I don’t think that it’s strong enough to say women should not use contraception.”
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