Make your home page

Health Spotlight: Birth control and breast cancer link

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — According to the CDC, about 65 percent of women 15 to 49 are currently using some form of birth control.

Besides preventing pregnancy, birth control can regulate menstrual cycles and help manage endometriosis, but it’s also linked to a disease that affects one in eight women. Age, family history, and having dense breasts can all increase your risk for breast cancer.

“Certain birth control pills may increase risk of breast cancer while you are on them,” said Shelley Tworoger, associate center director of Population Science Moffitt Cancer Center.

A study from the United Kingdom found all hormonal contraceptives increase the risk of breast cancer by 20 to 30 percent. That risk increases with certain factors.

“For some women, it’s ok, and other women, it’s not,” said Tworoger.

One of those factors is age. For women 16 to 25 taking birth control, there would be eight new cases of breast cancer per 100 thousand women. For women 35 to 39, that number jumps to 264 per 100 thousand.

The length of time matters. There were twice as many cases of breast cancer in women who took birth control for 10 years compared to those who took it less than a year. However, birth control still produces a lower risk of breast cancer than drinking alcohol and smoking.

“That risk seems to go away when you stop,” said Tworoger.

Experts say talk to your doctor to determine whether the risk of breast cancer outweighs the benefits of birth control.

Birth control is not only linked to an increase in breast cancer, blood clots, and strokes, but it can also lower the risk for ovarian, endometrial, and colon cancers.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.