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Does Birth Control Cause Cancer?

Birth control exists in various types and forms. Their primary purpose is, as the name suggests, preventing pregnancy, except for condoms. They not only enact to prevent pregnancy, but they also protect against sexually transmitted infections.

Hormonal Contraceptives

A common form of contraception used by women is hormonal, which may exist in several forms. Oral contraceptive pill is one option, which can either be combination pill, in which case they have both estrogen and progesterone. Or they can be ‘mini-pills’, containing only progesterone.

Others hormonal contraceptives include patches and shots. Birth control ring worn inside the vagina is a less common approach but works by altering the hormones.

Moreover, there are more robust options like IUD and birth control implants that are effective for years at a time.

OCPs are not just given for to prevent pregnancy but they serve other purposes as well. Many women are given these pills for the regulation of their periods and reducing the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome by the Best Gynecologist in Karachi. In certain cases, birth control pills are also recommended for preventing ovarian cysts.

The Risks Of Oral Contraceptives

There is more to birth control pills than meets the eyes; due to their impact on the changed hormones, they also bring with them certain risks, like that of cancers.

Breast Cancer

According to research, women who take combination birth control pill have a slightly higher chance of getting breast cancer. Those women who have ever taken OCPs are 7% greater risk of getting breast cancer as opposed to those women who have never taken combination OCPs.

Moreover, women who are currently using OCPs are 24% more likely to get breast cancer. The risk also increases as the period of usage of pills increases. Also, risk runs higher for the ‘triphasic’ pills, which cause the hormonal levels to change 3 times during a cycle.

However, these risks did decrease after stopping the intake of the pills, and the risks normalized after a decade of non-usage of oral contraceptives.

Cervical Cancer

Women who use oral contraceptive pills are also more likely to suffer from cervical cancer. As per research, usage of OCPs for over 5 years straight led to an increase in the chances of getting cancer.

Moreover, the risk also increases as the period of usage of the pills increase, much like the case with breast cancer. However, a salient point is the exponential increase in the risk with time; research showed 10% increase in risk with less than 5 years of usage but 5-9 years of usage of OCPs resulted in 60% increase in the risk of cervical cancer.

Silver lining is that the risk decreases after the consumption of the pills is stopped.

The Flip Side Of Contraceptives

While oral contraceptives increase the risks of certain cancers, they also lower risk factors for some of the other cancers in women.

Colorectal Cancer

Women who take oral contraceptives are 15-20% less likely to develop colorectal cancer. The reduction in the risks is also directly proportional to the time period for pills’ intake.

Endometrial Cancer

Endometrial cancer risks are lesser for women who take OPCs, by almost 30%. Moreover, risks are also further decreased for women who have been taking oral contraceptives for longer period of time.

This decrease in risk factors accompanies women even after they disband the use of OCPS. Women who are obese, smokers, and those who lived sedentary life are much more likely to benefit from this risk reduction.

Ovarian Cancer

OCPs have a profound impact in lowering the risk of ovarian cancer. Women who use oral contraceptives are 30-50% less likely to suffer from ovarian cancer, as opposed to those who have never taken OCPs.

Moreover, the longer the pills are taken, the greater is the protection against ovarian cancer. This protective effect tends to last even after one stops taking the pills.

What should women use then?
There are advantages and disadvantages of using oral contraceptive pills. If you are reluctant to use them, know that there are many other birth control options present that work either by altering hormones, or enacting as a physical barrier to the sperm entry in the body. It is best to discuss your option with the Best Gynecologist in Islamabad in order to make an informed decision.