Contraceptive Pill And Breast Cancer
I belong to a different generation, in which when you got married there was no one to tell you about contraception and you were dumb and idiot enough not to be able to discuss ‘Such Things’ with your husband. There was no internet to provide you with essential wisdom and by the way the concept of compulsory sex education hadn’t caught up at that time. The only way out for us was to consult our married friends and follow what they said. At that time, the only way of contraception in your power was the pill which you took hiding from everyone as you were not considered a good ‘Sanskari’ woman if you took ‘Such’ decisions in your hands.
Nowadays there is so much awareness about methods of contraception but along with that there are so many prevalent myths surrounding the pill. Most prominent one revolves around the high risk of cancer due to oral contraception.
Breast Cancer and oral contraception – The facts
In this article, I am trying to talk about a few facts about the link between Cancer and pill. When we hear the word cancer, we presume that it includes all types of cancer while the fact is that the ill effects of the pill is in the case of Breast Cancer.
- This first one might scare you a bit. Women who take the oral contraceptive pill are on a higher risk of breast cancer. But there is a good news too that this risk disappears within 10 years of stopping the Pill.
- Your age also matters in this link between the pill and breast cancer. Women in the age group from 16 to 19 years are less susceptible than the women between the age group of 25 to 29 years.
These numbers are based on women who used the Pill for three years as in the 1960s, three years’ use was the average. But surely the risk is larger if you take the oral contraception for a longer period. Sigh of relief for those who got affected reading about breast cancer and pill connection is that the breast cancers in women who have used the Pill tend to be smaller and easier to treat. If you have a family history of breast cancer, then there are chances of increased risk and any chance as regards Cancer is not at all worth taking.
If you have a history of breast problems, such as lumps and you feel like being extra cautious, then it may be better to take a brand of pill that has lower oestrogen levels.
Pill and Ovarian Cancer
If oral contraception causes breast cancer then on the other hand it protects against ovarian cancer. Although it can increase the risk of mild stroke yet it is the most reliable method of contraception even today. Though it has been found that because a family history of breast cancer often goes hand in hand with a higher risk of ovarian cancer, yet the pill has a rather protective effect against ovarian cancer. If you have ovarian cancer in your family, then the protection comes from the pill suppressing hormones that naturally stimulate the ovaries. Now that means that the longer you take the pill, the lower your risk of ovarian cancer. Although it can increase the risk of mild stroke yet it is the most reliable method of contraception even today. Now that means that the longer you take the pill, the lower your risk of ovarian cancer.
Some research says that the use of oral contraception increases the risk of cancer of the cervix. The reason is really tricky that the women who use oral contraceptives are generally more active sexually so they may at times not use barrier contraception like condom, so that makes them more at risk of cervical cancer. But again as with breast cancer the risk starts to drop as soon as you stop taking it to the extent that after 10 years the risk is the same as if you had never used it.
It has been found that the pill also protects against cancer of the womb and that might be due to the progesterone. Research suggests that the protection against womb cancer lasts for almost at least 15 years after you stop taking the pill.
Finally, the studies conclude that the pill might also protect against bowel cancer in women. The research says that women who have taken the pill are about a 20% lower risk of bowel cancer.
Is the pill really dangerous?
The pill does increase the risk of Breast Cancer but lowers the risk of almost all other types of cancers. Best part of the whole pill story is that the increase in cancer risk from taking the pill goes back to normal once it is stopped. So can we call it dangerous and stop taking it? Well, personally speaking there is no reason for stopping the use of the pill as its advantages are more than the disadvantage. But before opting for any oral contraception women must consult an authorised medical practitioner.
What is your opinion about the pill and cancer?
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