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Plenty of women turn to hormonal birth control methods as safe, effective forms of contraception. That still holds true, but a new study found that birth control pills and hormonal I.U.D.s might put women at a slightly higher risk of breast cancer than those who use nonhormonal methods.
It’s common knowledge that there are risks associated with hormonal contraception, just like any other medicine. But with modern options that are lower-dose than those of the past, most women don’t have the same concerns as their mothers or grandmothers would’ve had. This new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that there’s still a slight increase in breast cancer risk, despite the modern formulations.
Researchers analyzed data from 1.8 million women in Denmark for an average of 10.9 years, and they found that women who were currently or had recently been using hormonal birth control were at a slightly higher risk of breast cancer than women who had never used it.
Despite the findings, it’s important to note that hormonal contraception has also been shown to have some serious benefits. “There’s very good evidence that oral contraceptives reduce the risk of ovarian cancer,” University of Oxford epidemiologist David Hunter said in an editorial about the study in the same journal. “They reduce the risk of endometrial cancer. And there’s a strong suggestion they also reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. So, many calculations suggest that the use of oral contraceptives actually prevents more cancers than it causes.”
So definitely be aware of the small risk, but consider the pros and cons before you decide to use, or not to use, hormonal contraception.