The study found a women’s chance of endometrial cancer was decreased by 34 percent, ovarian cancer by 33 percent and bowel cancer by 19 per cent. If the pill is taken during reproductive years, researchers found it did NOT increase the risk of producing new cancers later in life. Birth control pills have been relied upon since the 1960s so this is very good news for women who use them.
The study did show there was a 4 per cent increased risk for breast cancer. But the risk went away 5 years after the stopping contraception. Although birth control pills are considered safe for healthy women, there are a few things to know so here are my prescriptions:
1. Birth control pills can raise your blood pressure slightly so get it checked regularly. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about other options.
2. If you smoke, have a history of heart disease or deep vein thrombosis, don’t use contraceptives that contain estrogen. There’s a slight increased risk for blood clots.
3. If you experience stomach pain, chest pain, severe headaches, blurred vision or aching in the legs, see your doctor immediately. These symptoms can indicate serious disorders.
4. Always perform monthly self-breast exams and report any changes to your doctor.
When it comes to cancer there are red flags to watch out for: sudden weight loss for no reason; blood in your bowel movements or urine; if you have severe unexplained pains; if you cough up blood; or if you have a lump in your breast, side of your neck or in your armpit. If you experience any of these, please see your doctor.
If you’re worried about the hormones in oral contraceptives, you can try non-hormonal options like IUDs. These are not linked to breast cancer and may lower your risk of endometrial and cervical cancers.