Birth Control Pills and Cancer Risk
Overall cancer risk
Overall, if there is an increase in cancer risks for women taking hormonal birth control, it appears to be very small. Taking the Pill may reduce a woman's risk for most cancers. This benefit for some cancers may last as long as 15 years after a woman stops taking the Pill. But long-term use of the Pill (more than 8 years) may slightly increase a woman's overall risk of cancer.1
Breast cancer risk
Experts disagree about whether or not birth control pills cause breast cancer. In general, studies have shown that birth control pills do not increase the risk of cancer. But some studies have found that the risk for breast cancer may be increased in certain women.2 Talk with your doctor about birth control pills and breast cancer.
Cervical cancer risk
Cervical cancer is caused by infection with a sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV). Based on current research, you may be more likely to develop cervical cancer if you use birth control pills and you are HPV-infected. You may also be more likely to become infected if you are exposed to HPV. This may be because long-term use of birth control pills makes the cells of the cervix more vulnerable.3
Ovarian cancer protection
Colon cancer and endometrial cancer protection
Taking combination birth control pills for 1 year or longer lowers the risk of colon cancer and cancer of the uterine lining (endometrial cancer). The longer you take the Pill, the lower your risk of endometrial cancer.5
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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- What to Know Before You Get Pregnant
- Birth Control and Insurance FAQ
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- Breast Cancer Treatment Options
- Is Your Body Ready for Pregnancy?