A recent study has linked high doses of estrogen in Ovral to an increased risk of breast cancer. Researchers estimate that doses of estrogen higher than 50-micrograms may triple the risk of breast cancer.
What is Ovral and How Does it Work?
Ovral is a birth control pill that contains a combination of estrogen and progestin in two strengths. The original version contains the progestin norgestrel (500-micrograms) and the estrogen ethinyl estradiol (50-micrograms). The low-dose version, Lo/Ovral-28, contains lower doses of norgestrel (300-micrograms) and ethinyl estradiol (30-micrograms).
Lo/Ovral-28 is sold in brand-name and generic versions by Pfizer and Akrimax Pharmaceuticals. Each blister-pack contains 28 pills, including 21 pills with active ingredients and seven inactive pills.
Ovral helps prevent pregnancy by thickening cervical mucous, which reduces the chances of sperm fertilizing an egg. It also thins the lining of the uterus, which reduces the chances of a fertilized egg implanting in the uterus.
Ovral and Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is 50% more likely to occur in women who use birth control pills, according to a study published in Cancer Research by researchers from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. The researchers also found that women on pills with at least 50-micrograms of estrogen (such as Ovral) are 2.7-times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer compared to women who have not used birth control pills in the last year. Click here to read more.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
- Lump in the breast or underarm
- Armpit swelling
- Breast pain or tenderness
- Flattening or indentation of the breast
- Change in breast size, contour, texture, or tempoerature
- Reddish, pitted surface of the breast (similar to an orange or lemon)
- Nipple changes (itching, burning, ulceration, dimpling)
- Nipple discharge (may be clear, bloody, or other color
What is the problem?
Evidence linking birth control and breast cancer has been growing for many years, with several studies finding similar increased risks. The product information for many products includes warnings about this risk. Experts believe that estrogen, a powerful hormone, stimulates breast growth and causes the proliferation of epithelial cells.
Pfizer Recalls Lo/Ovral-28
January 2012 — Pfizer Inc. has announced a voluntary recall for certain lots of Lo/Ovral-28 that may have been sold with an incorrect number of inactive or active pills. The order of the pills may also be incorrect. Women who use this product may be at risk for unintentional pregnancy.