Current or recent use of birth control pills (oral contraceptives) slightly increases the risk of breast cancer [12,32-34].
Studies show while women are taking birth control pills (and shortly after), they have a 20-30 percent higher risk of breast cancer than women who have never used the pill [32,34].
However, this extra risk is quite small because the risk of breast cancer for most young women is low [32,34]. So, even with a slight increase in risk, they are still unlikely to get breast cancer.
Once women stop taking the pill, their risk begins to decrease and after about 10 years, returns to that of women who have never taken the pill .
In most studies to date, women took older, higher-dose forms of the pill.
For a summary of research studies on birth control pills and breast cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.
Before making any decisions about birth control pills (or if you are currently taking them and haven’t done so already), talk with your health care provider about the benefits and risks.
Birth control pills have some risks. However, they also decrease the risk of both uterine and ovarian cancers [35-37].
One area still under study is how today's lower-dose pills affect breast cancer risk.
Some types of newer birth control pills lower the number of periods a woman has during a year. Others contain progestin, but no estrogen (often called “mini-pills”).
The impact on breast cancer risk appears to vary by type of lower-dose birth control pill .
Mini-pills may not increase breast cancer risk at all [7,38].
Early findings show other types of lower-dose birth control pills may increase breast cancer risk, but less so than the higher-dose pills of the past .
These topics are still under study.
Before using any type of birth control pills (or if you are currently taking them and haven’t done so already), talk with your health care provider about their benefits and risks.
Like birth control pills, some other contraceptives contain (or release) hormones.
Some contain progestin alone:
Some contain both estrogen and progestin:
At this time, data on a potential link between these products and breast cancer risk are limited [38-44]. A few findings are discussed below.
Before using any type of birth control with hormones (or if you are currently using one and haven’t done so already), talk with your provider about its benefits and risks.
Findings on Depo Provera have shown no impact on breast cancer risk overall [39,43].
However, a possible increase in risk has been found among current, longer-term users compared to women who never used Depo Provera [39,43].
The few findings on hormone-releasing IUDs and breast cancer are mixed. Some show hormone-releasing IUDs have no impact on breast cancer risk [41-42].
Other findings suggest past use of these IUDs may increase breast cancer risk after menopause .
These topics are under study.
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*Please note, the information provided within Komen Perspectives articles is only current as of the date of posting. Therefore, some information may be out of date at this time.
How Hormones Affect Breast Cancer