Are Birth Control Pills Causing Cancer?

09 Sep
By Amelia Smith

The high level of awareness by the media and the authorities has stirred a family planning buzz in the state. People have got more conscious and conservative on raising the family and maintaining its size. The natural way to limit the size of family is abstinence from the sex however it is very abnormal to maintain a healthy married life. For this reason, other alternatives have been desired by the families; especially females to preserve intimacy. There are various alternatives now available in market for the purpose. The sperm entry in the female could be prevented by using barriers like condoms or implantable devices. However, condoms are not 100% effective and the device interventions are not 100% safe.

Birth Control Pills

Take a pill every day and prevent unwanted birth’- possible by birth control pills. Birth control pillis are a type of medication used profoundly for preventing pregnancy. Women can take them daily to prevent pregnancy. They are commonly called “the pill” or oral contraception. Over 100 million women worldwide currently use oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy.

The questions and answers outlined below provide important information to assist you in using the pill in the safest and most effective manner. Be sure to read this information before you start taking birth control pills. Please feel free to discuss with your provider any questions or concerns that you may have about taking the pill.

Birth control pills are made up of hormones- estrogen and progestin. These are the same hormones that are naturally produced in the ovaries and regulate the ovulation and the menstrual cycle. There are a number of different brands available, manufactured by several different companies. Pills containing both the hormones namely estrogen and progestinare are called combination pills. Some are progestin-only pills. Most women on the pill take combination pills though they can be taken individual also. (You should not take the combination pill during prolonged bed rest). The hormones in the pill work by impeding the releasing of eggs from the ovaries and when there is no release of eggs, sperms do not fertilise and pregnancy does not happen. They also make cervical mucus thicker to keep sperm away from getting to the eggs.

Birth control pills are generally safer for use however some medications pose certain risks to a specific class of women, so safety is a concern when choosing a birth control method. Certain conditions increase the risk of serious side effects. Some of these conditions may even rule out the effects of pill with adverse effects. You should not take any kind of birth control pills if you have have breast cancer or think you might be pregnant.

The relationship between cancer and Contraceptive Pills?

  • Pills and cervical cancer: Some studies have indicated the increased incidence of cervical cancer. However, this may relate to the other factors such as numbers of sexual partners, STD exposure, etc than to birth control pill use.
  • Pills and ovarian cancer: Three years of use reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by 40%; ten years of use reduces the risk by 80%.
  • Pills and endometrial cancer: Pills reduce the risk for endometrial (uterine lining) cancer.
  • Pills and Breast Cancer: The conclusion so followed by the existing studies is that the pills neither reduce nor increase the risk of breast cancer; however, research continues. Women are encouraged to undergo monthly self-breast exams and report any changes or problems to their health care provider.

Birth control pills and Breast Cancer: A controversial analogy

A study conducted by Women’s Contraceptive and Reproductive Experience (Women’s CARE) in the period 1994 to 1998 showed there was no increased risk of breast cancer in current or former users of birth control pills. Other researches were also carried out targeting the same and the attempts to evaluate the risks of breast cancer in women who had taken birth control pills in the past year compared to users who haven’t taken pills have been made. The findings by the various researches are summarised below:-

Objective: To study the possible link between oral contraceptive use and breast cancer risk in women.


  1. Dosage of estrogen in pills and risk of breast cancer: When birth control pills contain high doses of estrogen, along with some other formulations, it is likely to increase the risk of breast cancer in women under 50. Oral contraceptives containing low-dose estrogen, that is 20 micrograms ethinyl estradiol is considered safe in contrast to the oral contraceptives containing 50 micrograms ethinylestradiol or 80 micrograms of mestranol which is associated with nearly a three-fold higher risk of breast cancer.
  2. Triphasic combination pills with 0.75 milligrams of norethindrone were linked to more than a three-fold higher risk of breast cancer.
  3. Pills with ethynodioldiacetate, a progestin seemed to increase the risk of breast cancer.
  4. It is also suggested that the pills which became popular in the 1990s, are not a problem because they contained lower-dose estrogen.
  5. Those with a family history of breast cancer, caused due to the mutations in the BRCA1 genes are 11 times higher at risk of the breast cancer and they should use birth control pills carefully. However those associated with BRCA2 genes do not pose any threat to health.

What the experts caution about the research findings?

The experts say that the results may be affected by an extraneous factor attributing to increased breast cancer risk while using the contraceptive pills. Additionally, researchers do not explain why high-dose estrogen pills lead to elevated risk. Also, nothing positive is said about estrogen-receptors. (This type of cancer needs estrogen to grow).

Recommendation for women

The best advice for women taking birth control pills is to get a consultation with a doctor about considering a lower dose estrogen birth control pill that does not have the higher-risk progesterone in it. You should not forget to check the specific doses and types of hormones used in oral contraceptives that are inscribed on the packaging. Although, there are no chances of elevation of breast cancer by using contraceptives however many other established health adversities may be associated with oral contraceptive pills. Also, do not stop the pills by anticipating the likelihood of a disease without a valid ground because the risk of pregnancy will go up if you either stop using birth control pills altogether or use the pills on an unregular basis.

If you found this blog helpful, then please share it with your friends. Also, remember to post comments in case you have any health queries.

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Amelia Smith

Nutritionist, herbalist, health and medicine writer and yoga enthusiast, Amelia Smith, is a professional in the health, nutrition and diet industry.

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