High-oestrogen contraceptive pills could raise breast cancer risk by 50%, study suggests

 

Health Reporter

Some birth control pills may temporarily increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer by as much as 50 per cent, an American study has found.

Women who, in the past year, had taken contraceptive pills which had a high or moderate dose of oestrogen, as well as those containing certain other hormones, had a 50 per cent increased risk of breast cancer, research involving more than 1,100 cancer patients revealed.

Any increased risk of breast cancer from taking birth control pills will have disappeared within 10 years of coming off the pill, experts said.

Pills with a low dose of oestrogen did not increase breast cancer risk. Most commonly used contraceptive pills contain low to moderate doses of oestrogen. 

The findings, which reinforce previous studies into a complex area of medicine, have been welcomed by experts who said they provided insights into the impact of different formulations of birth control.

The researchers, from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, also said that their findings should be treated with caution because breast cancer was rare among young women most likely to use the pill and that oral contraceptives also carried “numerous established health benefits”.

The study is published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, today.

Dr Caroline Dalton, senior policy officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said that women who had any concerns about starting or stopping the pill should talk through the options with their doctor.

“Levels of oestrogen in the combined pill have decreased over the past 30 years. Whilst the researchers state that these findings require further investigation, we are a little closer to finding out whether or not newer, lower-dose pills are associated with the same risk as the higher-dose formulations more commonly used in the past,” she said.

“However, it is important to note that breast cancer is rare in women under the age of 40, regardless of whether or not they use the contraceptive pill. In addition, 10 years after coming off the pill any increased risk will have disappeared leaving the chance of developing breast cancer at around the same level as those who’ve never taken the pill.”

The study compared the use of oral contraceptive pills among 1,102 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1990 and 2009, with a control group of 21,952 people. They found that recent use of contraceptive pills increased breast cancer risk by 50 per cent compared to women who had never or formerly used them.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: HR Assistant

    £17447 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is a leading centre fo...

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Case Handler

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler is requi...

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Sales Apprentice

    £15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £20,000 - £60,000

    £20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence