This is a large study which finds that use of hormonal contraceptives slightly increases the short-term risk of breast cancer, but the absolute increase in risk is small – in the region of one extra incident of breast cancer for every 7690 women using hormonal contraception for 1 year. Other studies have also found a protective effect from the contraceptive pill against other cancers, so it would appear that women choosing this method are not at an overall increased risk from cancer over their lifetimes. No medication is risk free, and sexually active women of reproductive age have to make their choices while balancing the competing risks and benefits of various options. For many women the benefits of a contraceptive method that suits them and their lifestyle outweighs the risks, and most importantly have to be set against the risks of pregnancy and birth. Women deserve evidence-based information on which to make the reproductive choices that are right for them, and risk should always be presented in a way that contextualises it.
The full study can be found here
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Notes to Editors:
bpas is a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year and provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at bpas.org.