New Study Links Hormone Birth Control To Cancer
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At mbg, we've been asking questions about the birth control pill for years. And many integrative and functional medicine doctors have been doing the same, their reasoning based on worries about its effect on libido, metabolism, and gut health. And now, new research published in the New England Journal of Medicine will force the medical community to think twice about hormonal forms of birth control.
The study was conducted by a group of scientists from Denmark who followed 1.8 million Danish women for over 10 years. What they found was surprising, since many people believe that the more modern forms of birth control—which contain less hormones than the ones our parents and grandparents took—couldn't possibly be linked to cancer. The results, however, showed that for every 100,000 women, the use of a hormone contraceptive causes an additional 13 cases of breast cancer each year. This means that out of 100,000 women on the pill, there will be 68 breast cancer diagnoses annually—compared to 55 for non-birth-control users.
That number might seem small, but when you consider the many millions of women who take the pill, it becomes a lot more significant. Interestingly, the results were the same across all types of hormonal birth control, including IUDs, which are often considered safer since the hormones are concentrated in the uterus instead of the bloodstream.
So what can we learn from this? For starters, a lot more research needs to be done on the long-term effects of all types of birth control. Dr. Marisa Weiss, an oncologist and founder of a website about breast cancer, told the New York Times that "Gynecologists just assumed that a lower dose of hormone meant a lower risk of cancer. But the same elevated risk is there." The take-home message? Never assume. And never stop asking questions and challenging the status quo when it comes to your health care. We'll be right there asking questions with you.