A new study at the University of Oxford looked at the risk of breast cancer associated with the use of different types of hormonal contraceptives in women.
The study found that current or recent use of progestagen-only contraceptives was associated with a slight increase in breast cancer risk.
This increase was similar in magnitude to the increase in risk associated with the use of combined hormonal contraceptives, which contain both oestrogen and progestagen.
The team analysed prescription records of hormonal contraceptives from a UK primary care database, comparing them in a nested case-control study of women aged under 50 years with incident invasive breast cancer diagnosed between 1996 and 2017.
The researchers also searched for studies on the association between current or recent progestagen-only contraceptive use and breast cancer risk in women.
The study found that breast cancer risk was raised similarly and strongly if the last hormonal contraceptive prescription was for oral combined, oral progestagen-only, injected progestagen, or progestagen-releasing intrauterine devices (IUDs).
The risk was slightly higher for IUDs compared to the other types of hormonal contraceptives.
The researchers also conducted meta-analyses of previously published results, which showed that current or recent use of progestagen-only contraceptives was associated with a raised relative risk of breast cancer.
The study’s findings suggest that the risk of breast cancer associated with the use of hormonal contraceptives needs to be balanced against the benefits of using contraceptives during the childbearing years.
The absolute excess risk associated with the use of either type of oral contraceptive is estimated to be smaller in women who use it at younger rather than at older ages.
However, the study’s design had limitations because information on contraceptive use was recorded during a defined period only, and information before entry into the database was generally unavailable.
Therefore, the study does not provide information regarding longer-term associations or the impact of total duration of contraceptive use on breast cancer risk.
Overall, this study provides important new evidence about the slight increase in breast cancer risk associated with the use of progestagen-only contraceptives.
Further research is needed to fully understand the relationship between hormonal contraceptives and breast cancer risk.
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the cells of the breast. It is the second most common cancer in women worldwide, after skin cancer.
Breast cancer can occur in both men and women, but it is rare in men.
The exact causes of breast cancer are unknown, but there are several factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing the disease.
Some of these risk factors include age, family history of breast cancer, certain gene mutations, hormonal factors, exposure to radiation, and lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity, and obesity.
Breast cancer can be detected early through regular screening such as mammograms, breast exams, and self-exams. Early detection can increase the chances of successful treatment and survival.
Treatment for breast cancer usually involves a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and/or hormone therapy.
Prevention of breast cancer involves making lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol consumption, and avoiding exposure to environmental toxins.
For women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer, preventive measures such as medications or surgery may be recommended.
It is important for women to be aware of their breast health and to talk to their healthcare provider about any concerns or questions they may have.
Breast cancer can be a serious and life-threatening disease, but with early detection and proper treatment, the chances of survival are high.
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The study was conducted by Gillian Reeves et al and published in PLoS Medicine.
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