Category Archives: 11. Honorary Gynecology

Birth Control Pills Cause Breast Cancer


Birth Control Pills Cause Cancer

References: NEJM Dec 2017New York Times,

That’s it! They do. Birth control pills increase your risk of breast cancer. The issue should be, how much risk are you willing to take for the benefit of birth control. Pregnancy is not a benign condition either. It has risks. Labor and delivery used to be just about the most common cause of death in women, until we got modern medicine, ultrasounds, sterile technique, etc
What’s the data? The study followed 1.6 million Danish women for over 10 years. Their results showed that for every 100,000 women, birth control use increased risk by 13 women a year, from 55 to 68. Over 40 years, that would be 520 extra cases per 100,000 women. That’s 0.5% lifetime risk. Or, a 20% risk increase over baseline. In percent terms it doesn’t sound huge, and indeed, it isn’t compared to other risks. The study was not able to take into account confounding variable like weight, exercise, other disease, breast feeding, alcohol consumption, etc etc. What about IUD’s with tiny amounts of progestins in them? Nope. Still a problem.
What they also found was that lower doses in modern birth control pills still are risky and the use of “low dose estrogen” really doesn’t add much. And, the progestins (Manufactured artificial progesterone) may actually be the main culprit. If you look at the moleculeprogesterone, and compare it to the molecule medroxyprogesterone, you can quickly see that they aren’t the same thing. They have enough overlap in function to fulfill their duty of hormonal manipulation, but then confuse the body by not setting off the normal biological signaling that the proper molecule provides. The mid cycle surge of LH and FSH is suppressed by lowered free hormones, secondary to elevated Sex Hormone Binding Globulin. You don’t ovulate. Presto.
Are other methods of birth control any safer? You have to go through all the complex math of failure rate and risk of pregnancy, and consequences of pregnancy to come to your own decision. At the end of the day, birth control pills and the IUD are extremely effective at preventing pregnancy, but they do have some risk to them. Ok,, you are informed. (And we didn’t go into the risk reduction of ovarian cancer etc that birth control may help – whole other topic.)
Now, can you soften the risk. You bet. When you do get pregnant, consider breast feeding as your “anti-cancer”, “baby’s brain health”, strategy. For every 6 months of breast feeding, your future risk of breast cancer drops some 15-16 percent – with studies rangingfrom 20% to 60% lifetime risk reduction by getting in the habit and sticking with it.

And then there is iodine, 1 mg a day, Vitamin D to a level of 50, exercise, weight control, Vitamin K2, avoid xenoestrogens (BPA) and eat lots of organic vegetables, and you can keep dropping the risk further.

www.What will work for me. This is one of the most common questions I get asked. How safe are birth control pills. It’s a yin and yang. Life has risks and choices. Driving to my office has risks. Texting on the way is dangerous. What I do tell my clients is please, please take a 6 month sabbatical from birth control every 5 years. And if you don’t want any more children, male or female tubes can be clipped.


Pop Quiz

  1. Birth control pills cause breast cancer by how much?                                          Answer: 13 extra cases per 100,000 women per year – or .5% higher
  2. What is the risk of pregnancy?                                                Answer: in advanced nations with good prenatal health care, 12/100,000 maternal deaths from pregnancy is what WHO provides.   This low rate occurs where  we do not have a targeted strategy for all pregnant women, it’s higher that other parts of the world where risks are up to 200+/100,000 deaths per year from pregnancy
  3. What is the most effective method to lower my risk of breast cancer?                    Answer: breast feed for at least 6 months with every pregnancy. Try for a year.
  4. What other strategies can I do go lower my breast cancer risk?                               Answer: stay slender, exercise, avoid sugar, iodine 1 mg a day, Vitamin D, K2….
  5. Is the IUD any safer?                                                                                                          Answer: No.