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Fact or Fiction: Birth control pills affects your risk of breast cancer?

Birth control pills are a common medication today taken by women for multiple medical and personal reasons. Some myths say that birth control pills cause or increase your risk of breast cancer. But what do experts say?

Experts suggest yes.

Women who take birth control have a slight increase in risk for breast cancer. This increased risk is approximately 20% to 30%. However, this risk is small because women who take birth control are relatively young. Breast cancer risk for women under 40 years old is lower than for women above 55. Women under 40 are the primary users of birth control.

Does the risk associated with birth control go away if you stop the medication?

Yes. The additional risk from the medication goes away completely 9 years after stopping the medication. At 4 years, the risk is cut by half.

So should I stop taking birth control?

You should speak to your doctor before starting a birth control regimen or before stopping your current medication. Your doctor will be able to appropriately direct you to a course of action that best meets your needs, risks and concerns.

Is there any positive impact from birth control?

Yes. Even though there is an elevated risk of breast cancer, there are many positive benefits of birth control. Here are some:

  • Controlling menstrual symptoms
  • Reducing risk of ovarian cancer by 50% with long term use
  • Reducing risk of colon cancer by around 40% with 8 years of use

Source: Susan G. Komen – Some Questions, Some Answers: Birth Control Pills, Fertility, Drugs and Breast Cancer Risk