Contraception and breast cancer risk
New research shows a small increase in the risk of breast cancer for women taking the pill and other forms of hormonal contraception.
This lasts for about five years after women stop taking the contraception.
The risk was previously know, but there were hopes that newer forms of contraception would be safer.
However, the new study – which included 1.8m women from Denmark followed up for 11 years on average –confirms a 20% added risk.
However, the increase this represents among women taking the pill for at least five years is just one extra case in every 1500 women.
David Hunter, of the Nuffield Department of Population Health, said: ‘These data suggest that the search for an oral contraceptive that does not elevate the risk of breast cancer needs to continue.
‘In the 1980s and 1990s, there was some optimism regarding the development of a formulation that would reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer, but research into this possibility appears to have stalled.’
However, he stressed that the small risks need to be set against the benefits, which include preventing unwanted pregnancy and a ‘substantial reductions in the risks of ovarian, endometrial and colorectal cancers in later life’.
The article has been published in The New England Journal of Medicine. For more information, click here.