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Birth Control Pills May Increase Breast Cancer Risk

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August 4, 2014 — Cancer Research has published a study linking the use of birth control pills to a 50% increased risk of breast cancer. Women on pills with high doses of estrogen were three times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

The conclusions of the study were based on data from over 1,100 women between the ages of 20-49 who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1990-2009. They were matched with controls from a random selection of 22,000 women who either did not take birth control pills or used them more than one year ago.

The researchers found that women on high doses of estrogen (50-micrograms of ethinyl estradiol or 80-micrograms of mestranol) were 2.7-times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. These pills include Ovral and Ovcon.

Continuin and Femulen, which contain ethynodiol diacetate, were associated with a 2.6-fold increased risk of breast cancer. Ortho 75, a triphasic combination pill with norethindrone (0.75-milligrams), was associated with a 3.1-fold increased risk of breast cancer.

Birth control pills with low doses of estrogen (20-micrograms of ethinyl estradiol) did not increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Furthermore, the risk of breast cancer returned to normal for women who stopped taking birth control pills.

This is not the first time birth control pills have been linked to breast cancer. Several previous studies have also confirmed this risk. Estrogen is known to stimulate breast growth by causing epithelial cells to proliferate. Over time, this may increase the risk of malignant cell mutations.

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