Birth control methods like condoms and some IUDs don’t use hormones to get the job done, so when it comes to breast cancer you have no need to worry.
Hormonal birth control methods like pills, injections, rings, hormonal IUDs, and implants, however, do have a weak link to breast cancer. But a weak link doesn’t mean they cause cancer, and it definitely doesn’t mean you should stop using them.
Hormones and Cancer
Two female hormones, estrogen and progesterone are used in the most common contraceptive pill and while they do stimulate the growth of breast cancer when they occur naturally in the body doctors aren’t sure the synthetic versions have the same effect.
Birth control pills have actually been shown to decrease the risk of other cancers like endometrial, ovarian, and colorectal cancers. There have been a lot of studies, but none of them tried to find exactly what was causing breast cancer.
What we do know is that of 150,000 women in 54 different studies, those that were on hormonal birth control were about 20% more likely to contract breast cancer. In one study, almost all of them were using a triphasic pill, so that type of pill might have been the cause. Another cause might have been how they took the pill, instead of just the fact that they were taking it. — The thing is, we just don’t know yet.
One study did conclude that there was a slightly increased risk, but that it depended on the woman’s general health, age, and all the other things that usually affect breast cancer. Some studies date back to the 80’s when birth control had higher doses of hormones, which would have a higher risk of increasing breast cancer than the modern pills women are using today.
What these studies show is that something is probably contributing the breast cancer, and more studies are needed to figure out what.
Hormonal birth control has many benefits, like controlling PMS, acne, heavy periods, and of course avoiding unwanted pregnancies. It’s important to note that if you have or had breast cancer, it is recommended that you do not use hormonal birth control because it can increase the risk of breast cancer returning. But non-hormonal birth control is safe to use as needed.
If you’ve never had breast cancer, we don’t think there’s any reason to worry about hormonal birth control as the benefits often outweigh the risks. Everyone’s situation is different, so make sure you consider other factors like obesity, cigarettes and alcohol, your general health, and other factors that can contribute to breast cancer. Ask your doctor what methods are safe and best for you.