Do Birth Control Pills Cause Cervical Cancer – Get the lowdown on different types of birth control and their risks for certain types of cancer. It’s something that no one likes to think about, but we can’t ignore cancer, and it’s important that we know about our individual risks.
It’s something that no one likes to think about, but we can’t ignore cancer, and it’s important that we know about our individual risks. Many people believe that certain types of birth control increase the risk of developing cancer, but that may not be entirely true. In fact, some contraceptives can protect you against certain types of cancer.
Do Birth Control Pills Cause Cervical Cancer
Let’s go into the types of birth control and what effect this may have on the risk of certain types of cancer.
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Combined contraceptives contain both estrogen and progestogen. The most common form of combined birth control is the combined pill. Microgynon, Cilest and Yasmin are popular brands of combined birth control pills. Ring and ring are also combined methods of birth control.
Some oral contraceptives increase the risk of breast cancer. This risk is very low; in the 30-39 age group, 14 more women in every 10,000 will develop breast cancer if they take combined birth control pills. In the youth groups, the numbers are even lower.
To put this into perspective, the risk of being a victim of credit card fraud is 2,000 out of every 10,000. That’s 143 times higher.
Research suggests that the longer the combined pill, and the more recently it has been used, the greater the risk of developing breast cancer. The slightly higher risk decreases once you stop smoking, and ten years after you stop, your risk returns to normal.
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Other research also found that the amounts and types of estrogen and progestogen in your combined pregnancy treatment may affect your risk of breast cancer, but there isn’t enough research to expand on this yet.
It is important to point out that your risk of developing breast cancer also depends on factors other than your contraception. Whether you smoke or not, your weight and genetics play a role.
Everyone has the BRCA gene, which protects us against breast and ovarian cancer. Some people have the wrong version of BRCA1 or BRCA2, which means that this protective effect does not work as it should. If you have a family history of breast cancer, or know you have the faulty BRCA gene, you should talk to your doctor before you start taking birth control pills. This is because you may be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Every time we ovulate, our teeth are damaged a little. Damage to the ovaries, over time, can lead to ovarian cancer in some cases. If we take hormonal drugs, which stop the production of eggs and prevent this damage from happening, this can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
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A large study in Denmark that looked at two million women over a 19-year period found that any combination of hormonal contraceptives – such as the pill, the ring and the patch – provided greater protection against ovarian cancer. This effect is more pronounced while the woman is using contraception, and decreases as soon as she stops.
Some studies have found a benefit in reducing the risk of ovarian cancer for several years after stopping hormonal contraceptives, and this gradually decreases over time.
Endometrial cancer is cancer of the lining of the womb. Users of the combined pill have been found to have half the risk of endometrial cancer than those who do not use hormonal contraceptives, and this protective effect is even greater if you are currently taking the combined contraceptive pill. People who have stopped using contraceptives also have a reduced risk, and this will decrease over time from stopping.
Protection against endometrial cancer has also been found with all combined contraceptive methods, and it is thought that this protection can last up to two years after stopping contraception in some cases.
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The Oral Contraceptive Study followed 46,000 women to monitor the long-term results of taking a combination of contraceptives. A study found that taking the drug for a long time reduced the incidence of colon cancer.
Unlike combined contraceptive methods, progestogen-only contraceptives do not contain estrogen – only progestogen. Progestin-only forms of contraception, and products such as Micronor, Noriday and Cerazette are popular in the UK. The implant and hormonal IUD (IUS) are also progestogen-only contraceptive methods.
Most of the research in this area involving progestogen-only contraception looks at all hormonal methods, including progestogen-only and combined contraceptives. This makes it difficult to say for sure whether progestogen-only regimens have an effect on breast cancer risk or not.
The NHS website says that the increased risk of breast cancer from the drug may disappear when you stop taking it.
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There is some evidence that hormone therapy can significantly increase your risk of breast cancer.
Unlike combined methods however, progestogen-only methods are generally considered safe for people with the BRCA gene mutation to use. People with breast cancer now, and most people with a history of breast cancer, should not use any type of hormonal contraception.
The Danish study did not find progestogen-only protective effects, but others did. Use of the hormonal IUS has been associated with reduced rates of ovarian cancer, as has the contraceptive pill, both of which are progestogen-only.
It is possible that the inconsistency in research on progestogen-only contraceptives is due to the way some progestogen-only contraceptives work. Although most hormonal contraceptives work to prevent ovulation to some extent, some progestogen-only contraceptives do more than others. They may be those that suppress ovulation (such as the hormonal IUS, which tends to prevent pregnancy by thinning the lining of the uterus and thinning the serum) have found some protective effects in research.
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Research on the effects of progestogen-only birth control methods on the risk of endometrial cancer is inconclusive, but suggests that they provide similar protection against the disease.
The Mirena IUD, a type of hormonal IUD (IUS), is also licensed to protect the lining of the uterus from the effects of estrogen used in hormone replacement therapy for menopause symptoms. This is because if estrogen is used to treat menopause symptoms without progestogen, this will cause the lining of the uterus to grow, and there will be a risk of cancerous changes.
People who have irregular periods (less than every three months) due to PCOS can use birth control methods such as birth control pills or a hormonal IUD (IUS) to keep the lining of the uterus stable.
There is reliable evidence that long-term use of the combination drug can increase your risk of developing skin cancer four times. The same study found that women who had taken the pill for 5-9 years were three times more likely to develop breast cancer than women who had never taken it.
The Risks Of Control: Assessing The Link Between Birth Control Pills And Breast Cancer
However, this increase was only seen in those with human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is common and often goes away on its own and doesn’t cause any problems – most people won’t even know they have it.
This may sound scary, but there is also evidence that this risk decreases once you stop using hormonal contraception, and to put it into perspective, only 0.7% of UK women have lifetime ovarian cancer. This number includes those who use hormonal contraceptives and those who do not.
Reviews of evidence show that there is a strong relationship between hormonal contraceptives in general and an increased risk of breast cancer. This risk increases the longer you take your birth control, and people who have used hormonal birth control for more than five years have the highest risk.
It is difficult to say whether different types of hormonal contraceptives, such as the pill, surgical ring, injection, patch and implant, have a small or large effect on the risk of oral cancer. More research is needed in this area.
Does Birth Control Prevent—or Cause—cancer?
It is also important to remember that your risk of developing cervical cancer, whether you are on medication or not, is greatly reduced if you do not have HPV. Staying up-to-date with cervical screening, getting vaccinated against HPV if eligible, and using condoms are good ways to protect yourself from HPV and any increased risk of cervical cancer it may cause.
There is evidence that fiber users have reduced rates of cervical cancer and reduced rates of endometrial cancer.
Mary Hargreaves is a writer and author with a passion for women’s sexual health. He has a Masters in Clinical and Health Psychology, and has worked in scientific research in a variety of disciplines. Clinical review by Alexandra Perez, PharmD, MBA, BCGP – By Ann Pietrangelo – Updated January 26, 2022.
Many believe that hormonal birth control has one purpose: to prevent pregnancy. Although it is very effective compared to other types of birth control, the results are not limited to pregnancy
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