What really raises the risk of breast cancer?

THE PILL Theory: Some studies suggest that taking the combined Pill, containing both oestrogen and progestogen, will expose you to a slightly higher risk of breast cancer.
Contraceptive pills
Contraceptive pills

THE PILL

Theory:

Some studies suggest that taking the combined Pill, containing both oestrogen and progestogen, will expose you to a slightly higher risk of breast cancer.

This is the most popular form of contraception, used by 27 per cent of women in this country. Coming off the combined pill will reduce this risk, and ten years after stopping you’ll be no more likely to get breast cancer than someone who has never taken it.

But a long-term study of 46,000 women, begun in 1968 by the Royal College of GPs, reported in March this year that there are no differences in breast cancer rates between women who have used the Pill and those who have not.

The progesterone-only pill is not linked to breast cancer. It is not yet known whether the lower oestrogen levels in the modern Pill lead to a reduced risk of breast cancer compared with other forms of the pill.

Expert Comment:

While the Pill slightly increases the risk of breast cancer, most women take it at an age when their natural risk is very low. The Pill can also protect against some cancers. It halves a woman’s risk of ovarian and womb cancers and this protective effect continues for about 15-20 years after stopping.

Evidence for Link: STRONG

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