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birth control and breast cancer

birth control and breast cancer

Hormonal contraception can slightly increase a person’s risk of developing breast cancer. This can vary according to the type of contraception they use. However, the benefits of birth control often outweigh the risks. For example, hormonal contraception can prevent unintended pregnancy and may protect against other cancers.

There seems to be a link between hormonal contraception and a slight increase in the risk of breast cancer. This may be because oral contraceptives use hormones to stop people from becoming pregnant, which may overstimulate breast cells and increase the risk of breast cancer.

However, there are other types of birth control besides hormonal contraception. A person can prevent unintended pregnancies without raising their risk of breast cancer.

That said, hormonal contraception may impart certain health benefits, such as a reduced risk of ovarian cysts and other types of cancer.

This article will examine the links between birth control and breast cancer. It will also explain the benefits of hormonal contraception and provide some alternatives to hormonal birth control for those worried about its risks. It will also provide some information about other risk factors for breast cancer.

birth control breast cancer

Can birth control cause breast cancer?

According to one 2017 study, hormonal contraception can slightly increase a person’s risk of breast cancer.

The study involved 1.8 million females in Denmark who were aged 15–49. The females had not had cancer or received fertility treatment.

The researchers revealed that participants using hormonal contraception had a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who were not. This meant that around 1 participant in every 7,690Trusted Source developed breast cancer.

However, the researchers noted that other factors, including age, may affect a person’s risk of developing breast cancer.

Participants younger than 35 years had a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Among the females who had been using hormonal contraception for a year, only 1 participant in every 50,000 developed breast cancer.

Once a person stops taking hormonal contraception, their risk of breast cancer seems to return to normal after around 5 years.

Overall, the risk of breast cancer was higher among females who currently use or recently used contemporary hormonal contraceptives than among those who had never used hormonal contraceptives.

This risk increased with longer durations of use, but absolute increases in risk were small.

Triphasic pill

The triphasic pill is a type of multiphasic pill. It changes hormone dose three times according to a person’s cycle. Monophasic pills, however, use the same amount of hormones for the whole cycle.

One 2010 studyTrusted Source followed 116,000 female nurses aged 24–43 years. The study began in 1989. It found that there was a slight increase in breast cancer risk. The risk mostly affected those taking the triphasic pill.

Another studyTrusted Source, this time from 2014, supported a link between the triphasic pill and an elevated risk of breast cancer.

Can a person with breast cancer use birth control?birth control and breast cancer

People with breast cancer may wish to avoid using birth control pills or hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs). This is because these methods can affect the growth of tumor cells in people with hormone-sensitive cancers, such as breast cancer.

However, there are many non-hormonal alternatives that a person with breast cancer could use.

Alternative birth control options

If a person is concerned about the slightly elevated breast cancer risk associated with hormonal birth control or needs to avoid it because they have breast cancer, they could considerTrusted Source:

  • Barrier methods: A safe alternative to hormonal contraception could be one of the many forms of barrier method, including:
    • condoms
    • diaphragm
    • spermicide

Other health benefits

Oral contraceptives may also have other health benefits, including:

  • a more regular menstrual cycle
  • reduced symptoms of premenstrual syndrome
  • a reduced risk of ovarian cysts
  • reduced symptoms of endometriosis
  • reduced symptoms of perimenopause
  • a possible improvement in acne

Risk factors for breast cancer

According to the National Cancer InstituteTrusted Source, breast cancer is the second most common cancer in U.S. females.

Some factors that increase the risk of breast cancer include:

  • Inherited risks: Risks from family history include mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
  • Older age: Age is the main risk factor for breast cancer. The risk increases with advancing age.
  • Personal history of breast cancer and breast cancer treatment: A person may be more at risk of breast cancer if they have ever had:
    • invasive breast cancer
    • ductal carcinoma in situ
    • lobular carcinoma in situ
    • benign breast disease
    • radiation therapy to the chest or breast
  • Menopause medications: A person who is using hormone replacement therapy for the symptoms of menopause may have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer.


People can take certain measures to prevent general cancer risk factors, such as:

  • stopping smoking, if applicable
  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • exercising regularly, where possible
  • following a healthy diet

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