It’s a bombshell for those hoping lower hormonal levels in birth controls would be safer for women.
A new study shows newer forms of hormonal birth controls, including hormonal IUDs, have a higher risk of breast cancer. The study followed almost 2 million Danish women for over a decade and was published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.
According to the study, for every 100,000 women using hormonal birth control, there are 68 cases of breast cancer every year. Compare that with 55 cases a year among non-users.
It’s a small 13 case increase, which is significant when it comes to the more than 10 million Americans using hormonal birth controls.
“It’s thought that the hormone progestin is what is causing the rise in breast cancer,” said Rachel Rapkin, OBGYN at USF Health and Tampa General Hospital.
The most frequent questions people asked online were “Do I need to stop now?” and “What other options do I have?”
“I would say definitely don’t stop taking your birth control. Do not stop taking it without starting another method of contraception especially if your goal is to avoid pregnancy,” Rapkin said, “You do have other non-hormonal forms of birth control like the copper IUD, vasectomy and less-effective options like condoms and withdrawal.”
Rapkin also says hormonal birth controls come with many benefits, like lowering endometrial and ovarian cancer. Some women also take it to help control their periods, pelvic pain and more. And while they do come with the risk of stroke and blood clots that risk is low.
Rapkin recommends women speak with their doctor if this new study makes them uncomfortable with the form of birth control they are currently using.