Research conducted in Denmark has indicated that the chance of acquiring the disease can be up to 20% higher in women taking pill
The relationship between birth control pills and the incidence of breast cancer has lost strength in recent years with the decrease in the amount of hormones present in the drug. However, a recent study conducted at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark warns that concern should be maintained as there is a real danger for women using the contraceptive method for more than five years.
The study, which was published in late 2017, involved the entire female population in Denmark – about 1.8 million women between the ages of 15 and 49, except for those with a history of cancer or venous thromboembolism and those who received treatment for infertility .
While tracking the large group for nearly 11 years, scientists have discovered 11,517 cases of cancer. The conclusion was that volunteers who used the pill had a 20 percent greater chance of developing the disease when compared to women who did not take the pills – although the risk also increased with age and varied according to the formulation of the pills. There was no increased risk for anyone taking the contraceptive less than five years ago.
According to the analysis, the risk was higher in those who used the contraceptive for more than 10 years and were above 40. In addition to the drug, the intrauterine device (IUD) with progesterone was also linked to risks.
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As the study authors themselves add, the threat associated with the contraceptive methods cited is small. Therefore, there is no reason to panic – it is only a question of assessing whether in your case, the pill brings more risks than benefits . ” The use of any type of hormonal contraceptive (including the progesterone IUD) has been associated with 1.3 new cases of breast cancer for every 10,000 women a year, a small portion. Our orientation is that women do not interrupt the use of contraceptives, but that they talk to their doctors and evaluate the risks, “explains Dr. Adolfo Scherr, an oncologist and member of the SOnHe SOnHe – Sasse Oncology and Hematology Group.
According to Adolfo, those who have already had cancer or are at high risk for developing this type of disease (mother or sisters affected by the disease) should discuss the use of other contraceptive methods .
The other side
A study conducted in the United Kingdom and published in June 2017 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology , with more than 46,000 women followed for 44 years, showed that the use of oral hormonal contraceptive (pill) reduced the risk of ovarian cancer in 33%, endometrial cancer in 34% and bowel (colorectal) cancer in 19%. “Contraceptives also help treat and control the symptoms of various gynecological diseases such as polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis,” adds the doctor.
About 5 to 10% of breast cancer cases are linked to hereditary issues. ” Its origin is related to the presence of mutations in certain genes transmitted in the family , especially the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes,” says Adolfo. In this case, the expert says that it is common to check several cases of cancer in women with close kinship, usually affecting the younger .
The other cases, called sporadic, are related to risk factors, such as age, reproductive history and behavioral habits, such as diet and exercise.
The sedentary lifestyle is a proven threat to the health of the breasts. “But epidemiological studies suggest that performing three to four hours of moderate to vigorous weekly exercise can reduce the risk of the tumor by 30 to 40 percent in sedentary women, especially those who are already in menopause, ” says the oncologist .
Diets high in saturated fats , poor in fiber and vegetables, and excessive consumption of alcoholic beverage are also related to an increase in the incidence of malignant breast tumor, according to the doctor. On the other hand, a diet like the Mediterranean , abundant in fruits, vegetables, legumes, oilseeds and fish is associated with a reduction of the risk.
Among the factors known to increase the chances of tumor incidence, Adolfo points to early menarche (first menstruation less than 12 years old), late menopause (after 55 years), the first pregnancy after 30 years, not having had child or breastfeeding, and the use of postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy – especially if it occurs for more than five years. “In these cases, the appearance of breast cancer is related to the presence of estrogen in the body for an extended period,” he says.