More research finds the pill doesn't pack on the pounds
Tuesday 14 June 2011
A new study hailing from Sweden states there is no connection between the use of birth control pills and any extra padding around your hips.
Many women might attest the contrary, but a researcher from University of Gothenburg says findings from a long-term study of 1,749 women Swedish women showed no connection between oral contraceptive use and weight gain. Last week health and science news website ScienceDaily reported on the research, which has not yet been published.
This study follows another earlier this year from Oregon Health & Science University in the US of rhesus macaque monkeys that yielded similar findings. Rhesus monkeys were used because their reproductive system is nearly identical to humans. Yet, researchers said that unlike human studies, they could control and measure more variables - such as exact food intake - to provide "more meaningful data," according to a release.
A host of earlier studies also support the findings, including one on teen girls and weight gain at Penn State. WebMD cites a review of 44 studies showing no evidence that birth control pills caused weight gain in most users.
So, what accounts for the weight gain some women experience when on the pill? Blame age, say researchers. "Most likely, the reason why this belief continues to exist [that the pill makes you gain weight] is that the weight gain that seems to occur with age is being attributed to these medications," states Judy Cameron, Ph.D., senior author of the Oregon study. However, many doctors acknowledge that for a few woman the pill may add on a little weight due to fluid retention.
Another more serious debate around birth control pills is the link to increased risk of breast cancer. It's still a murky area, with studies producing conflicting results. A reputable study by Women's Contraceptive and Reproductive Experience (Women's CARE) done between 1994 and 1998 showed there was no increased risk of breast cancer in current or former users of birth control pills, and many doctors say that today's versions of the pill don't increase your risk. Yet WebMD also cites a Scandinavian study that noted an increase in breast cancer in a group of women using birth control pills. This doesn't help women who want clarity on the issue, but it's advised to talk to a trusted physician about what he or she thinks.
Access the Swedish study here: http://gupea.ub.gu.se/handle/2077/25573
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