Taking contraceptive pill increases risk of cancer

2014 Research

Scientists at the Cancer Research Center in Seattle have shown that women who had taken contraceptive pills containing 30 micrograms of oestrogen, have a 60 per cent greater risk of developing breast cancer in the following year.  Those taking even higher doses (allowed in the USA but not the UK) saw their risk tripled.

Anybody who has followed CANCERactive or read Everything you need to know to help you beat cancer, will know that since 2001 we have consistently made women aware of the risks of both the contraceptive pill and HRT in developing cancer.

There are 21 brands on the UK market containing 30 micrograms of oestrogen. Oestrogen has been known to drive cancer since the mid-90s.


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The researchers looked at 1,100 women with breast cancer, and 22,000 who did not. The age group of the cancer patients was 20 to 49.

Some bizarre comments on the research occurred in the UK press however, with many people playing down the risk. Most stated that this age group ‘only had 10,000 breast cancer cases a year in the UK of the 50,000 diagnosed’.

One Doctor quoted in the press said it was less than the increased risk caused by a large glass of wine a day – he said that doubled risk. (Cancer Research UK have produced figures showing an extra glass of wine a day increases risk by 6 per cent).

All this, frankly, misleads women who deserve research information not inaccurate comment.

A decade ago, most of the major cancer bodies were talking about cancer being an ‘old person’s disease’, and estimating that 85 per cent of cancers come to people older than 60. This is simply not true nowadays. Cancer Research UK published data in recent years talking of prostate and oesophageal cancers growing 6-fold in the 40-something age group. For breast cancer, 42,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 – 10,000, or nearly 25 per cent, were in the under 49 age group. It is becoming an ever younger disease, there are probably many causes. The oestrogen based contraceptive pill may well be one of them. Since there are mini-pills containing no oestrogen, women clearly have a decision to make.



2014 Research
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