Local doctor discusses latest study on birth control pills - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Local doctor discusses latest study on birth control pills

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(Image Courtesy: MGN Online) (Image Courtesy: MGN Online)

In the largest study of its kind, birth control continues to be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.  

Researchers in Denmark say 'the pill' can increase a woman's risk by up to 38 percent. 

The headlines are certainly making many women take a second look, but one local doctor we talked to suggests women look at the details of the study and not just the headlines. 

You may think you've heard about this study before.  Years ago, researchers did prove a link between estrogen-laced birth control pills and breast cancer.  

However, this new study, which followed 1.8 million Danish women under the age of 50 for more than a decade, looked at the risks associated with the newer forms of the pill with less estrogen.  

Researchers said that they were somewhat surprised to find that modern birth control can still increase a woman's risk of breast cancer, on average, by 20 percent.
"Well, I don't think women need to rush to their care provider and say I need to come off these," said Dr. Ronald Burkman with Baystate Medical Center.
Burkman is also professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UMass Medical School. 
"Overall, there's about 13 additional cases per 100,000 women in this study, but when you look at women less then age 35, it's only two additional cases of breast cancer per 100,000 women, so that overall is an absolute risk in the younger age reproductive group is low," Burkman added.
Burkman also told Western Mass News that many studies point out the protective benefits of oral contraceptives.
"You need to balance this risk with some of the protective affects against cancer that hormonal contraceptives have.  That includes ovarian cancer, that includes cancer of the uterus and it also includes colon cancer," Burkman noted.
The study pointed to duration of use and showed women in their 40's may be most at risk.
"Certainly, women in their 40's will have to have a careful discussion with their care providers as to whether, should they continue use of hormonal contraceptives, should they look at other forms of contraceptives such as copper IUD and the like," Burkman said.

The study also includes the risk associated with all forms of hormonal contraception, including injections or intrauterine devices that release a hormone directly into the uterus.  

Copyright 2017 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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