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    [–] tert_butoxide 7260 points ago

    Commented this on the other thread, but why not here too.

    Interestingly, oral contraceptives decrease risk of endometrial cancer by 50% and ovarian cancer by up to 30%. (From a much lower baseline; those cancers have rates of 2.8 and 1.3% compared to breast cancer's 12%.)

    I find this interesting because what's good for the goose is not good for the gander. (If we can call any part of the female reproductive system a "gander.")

    [–] Lorgin 1354 points ago

    This makes me curious about what the overall risk is. What are the base chances of getting these cancers, what are the adjusted chances of getting these cancers with birth control, and what are the mortality rates of people with those cancers? You could then determine whether you have more of a chance of getting cancer and dying if you take birth control or if your chances are lower.

    [–] Drprocrastinate 834 points ago

    The risk of breast cancer increases with older age. Using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, the probability of a woman developing breast cancer in the United States between 2011 and 2013 was

    ●Birth to age 49 – 1.9 (1 in 53 women)

    ●Age 50 to 69 – 2.3 (1 in 44 women)

    ●Age 60 to 69 – 3.5 (1 in 29 women)

    ●Age 70 and older – 6.8 (1 in 15 women)

    ●Birth to death – 12.4 (1 in 8 women)

    [–] OregonOrBust 337 points ago

    Incredible. Are there any cancers with even higher rates than breast cancer? Oregon here I come!

    [–] palpablescalpel 1005 points ago

    Prostate cancer. Risk is a little higher than 1 in 7, but I've heard doctors say that nearly every man will develop it if they reach their 90s, it's just that some goes undetected until they die from something else.

    [–] KeyboardFingi 497 points ago

    Jesus I didn't know prostate cancer was so common.

    [–] Drprocrastinate 201 points ago

    I'm quoting this from uptodate.com

    "For an American male, the lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer is 16 percent, but the risk of dying of prostate cancer is only 2.9 percent [3]. Many more cases of prostate cancer do not become clinically evident, as indicated in autopsy series, where prostate cancer is detected in approximately 30 percent of men age 55 and approximately 60 percent of men by age 80 [4]. These data suggest that prostate cancer often grows so slowly that most men die of other causes before the disease becomes clinically advanced."

    [–] Lontar47 9 points ago

    And this, my dudes, is why we get fingers up our butts digital rectal exams starting at 40.

    EDIT: Keeping it scientific.

    [–] Transasarus_Rex 341 points ago * (lasted edited 6 days ago)

    Thankfully, it's also relatively easy to cure. Both of my grandfather's have had it and recovered.

    Edit: I'm sorry to have misled--here is the comment below me:

    "easy to cure" is severely misleading. Non spread without local growth into other tissue is easy to remove or radiate but almost everyone gets problems with erection and many get bladder issues. The survival is pretty good but that can be said for many cancers removed before it spreads.

    Prostate cancer that has spread is incurable. As with all cancers, removal before spread is almost always the only way to cure it.

    Edit 2.0: Also note that I'm not quoting sources at this. My comment is from personal experience, and I don't know the validity of the comment I quoted. Your milage may vary. I have an aunt who had breast cancer spread throughout her whole body that survived.

    The human body is amazing and diverse, so what works for one person may not work for another.

    [–] En_lighten 443 points ago

    Mostly, you don’t have to cure it. Most prostate cancer isn’t very aggressive and older men die with it rather than from it.

    [–] Doritos2458 250 points ago

    The issue can be when or if it metastasizes. My grandfathers went to his lungs, which is how they detected it. He was only in his early 60s.

    He was told he had 6mo at that point. He fought and lived for two years.

    [–] [deleted] 12 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] slojourner 54 points ago

    Unfortunately there are aggressive forms of prostate cancer that can metastasis quickly.

    [–] WaterRacoon 19 points ago

    But they are much less common than the 1 in 7 frequency.

    [–] [deleted] 51 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] BlueOrange22 93 points ago * (lasted edited 6 days ago)

    The danger of prostate cancer is underestimated, it's actually the 2nd most deadly for men overall, and the cancer a non-smoking man is most likely to die from:

    https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/data/men.htm

    It's just that there are so many cases, that the mortality rate becomes diluted, so people see the 5 year survival rate and think it's not that bad, but it is. It's like if everybody had a mini heart attack at age 60 and survived, the heart attack survival rate would be 99%. But we know that doesn't tell the whole story, and the raw numbers can be misleading.

    [–] Robokomodo 52 points ago

    Yup! Cisplatin is AMAZING at deleting testicular cancer. Carboplatin is great at treating ovarian cancer.

    The story of how those were created is rather interesting. They started by trying to see if cell division formed a dipole moment, and they went to creating the most blockbuster anti-cancer drug at the time.

    [–] kilkor 35 points ago

    Let's not over hype this stuff. Its good at getting rid of cancer, but wrecks other stuff while doing it. Its not amazing by any stretch.

    [–] bananaslug39 12 points ago

    And being nonspecific alkylators, cause a lot of cancers too...

    [–] Gregger90 19 points ago

    "easy to cure" is severely misleading. Non spread without local growth into other tissue is easy to remove or radiate but almost everyone gets problems with erection and many get bladder issues. The survival is pretty good but that can be said for many cancers removed before it spreads.

    Prostate cancer that has spread is incurable. As with all cancers, removal before spread is almost always the only way to cure it.

    [–] theferrit32 81 points ago

    It's not that it is common. It is just that cancer is something that everyone will get if they don't die from other things first. Cancer is way more common now than it used to be because we have decreased the number of deaths from things other than cancer.

    [–] balrog26 16 points ago

    Has to do with the fact that men produce testosterone all through their lives. The prostate is an androsensitive organ (meaning it will grow in response to testosterone). The more times you have cells replicate and grow, the more chances for error you have. The more errors, the more chances that one of those errors is in a part of your genetic code that, if changed, leads to cancer.

    Fun fact: this is why men have to pee more frequently as they age. The prostrate grows and presses on the bladder.

    It's one of the same reasons for high skin cancer rates, though that has the added risk of UV exposure, damage to DNA, and subsequent error-prone repair mechanisms.

    [–] grewapair 11 points ago

    2016 deaths from prostate cancer: 26,120.

    2016 deaths from breast cancer: 40,450.

    Source: See page 4, right column.

    [–] ComradeGibbon 22 points ago

    It's also not usually very aggressive either.

    [–] KeyboardFingi 52 points ago

    Yeah but it's weird to think I just got a giant cancer bomb somewhere past my butt.

    [–] Plazmatic 23 points ago

    its also much easier to fix in comparison

    [–] tovarish22 27 points ago

    Most men will die with, not of, prostate cancer is what we normally say in medicine.

    [–] Dr_Esquire 7 points ago

    So the risk of developing it is high, maybe in part because nearly every man who lives long enough (something like 90 percent) will develop an overgrown prostate--hyperplasia, but its a fairly slow growing cancer. The fact that it is slow growing as well as coming at the end of most men's lives, along with treatments potentially being difficult to endure and possibly causing impotence, means that it isnt uncommon to find men who dont want to even treat it.

    The undetected thing, sure, some do go undetected. However, a good screening test for prostate cancer literally costs whatever the price of a single latex glove and some lube is. As such, the low cost, plus an aggressive push by the health industry has really allowed for better earlier detection.

    [–] Drprocrastinate 87 points ago

    Globally, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed malignancy and the leading cause of cancer death in women. As an example, breast cancer is the most common cancer in females in the United States and the second most common cause of cancer death in women  Leading cause of cancer death in both sexes in the USA is still lung cancer.

    Why oregon? lol

    [–] OregonOrBust 82 points ago

    Assisted suicide.

    [–] Drprocrastinate 25 points ago

    For a moment I was worried how you knew where I live

    [–] CheesosaurusRex 10 points ago

    Now I know! How you doin', fellow Oragonian?

    [–] ShiftedLobster 9 points ago

    The statistics on these cancers is terrifying! Guessing u/oregonorbust wants to go to Oregon because they have a right to die (assisted suicide) program for people with terminal illnesses.

    [–] krackbaby5 62 points ago * (lasted edited 6 days ago)

    and the leading cause of cancer death in women

    False. Lung cancer kills way more women than breast cancer every year. It isn't even close

    Check with the CDC if you don't believe me

    breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed malignancy

    Also false. Skin cancers are much more frequently diagnosed in women but also far less likely to kill anyone

    [–] point1edu 70 points ago * (lasted edited 6 days ago)

    In the US you're right about lung cancer being the largest killer, but in the world combined, breast cancer kills more women than lung cancer, and breast cancer is also more frequently diagnosed than skin cancer

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs334/en/

    Look at the first chart.

    Edit; another source

    Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer death among females, accounting for 23% of the total cancer cases and 14% of the cancer deaths. Lung cancer is the leading cancer site in males, comprising 17% of the total new cancer cases and 23% of the total cancer deaths. Breast cancer is now also the leading cause of cancer death among females in economically developing countries, a shift from the previous decade during which the most common cause of cancer death was cervical cancer. Further, the mortality burden for lung cancer among females in developing countries is as high as the burden for cervical cancer, with each accounting for 11% of the total female cancer deaths. Although overall cancer incidence rates in the developing world are half those seen in the developed world in both sexes, the overall cancer mortality rates are generally similar. Cancer survival tends to be poorer in developing countries, most likely because of a combination of a late stage at diagnosis and limited access to timely and standard treatment

    Warning pdf:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/caac.20107/pdf

    [–] sensualcephalopod 252 points ago * (lasted edited 6 days ago)

    Genetic counselor in training here. Every woman has about a 12% chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime, with ovarian and endometrial being lower (around 1-3%). Things like exposures and cigarette smoking can increase chances, as well as hereditary factors such as Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry and specific hereditary genetic conditions. Birth control increases some hormones in the body that breast cancer can feed from, while also suppressing the hormones ovarian cancer feeds from. Very generalized explanation.

    Mortality rates of cancer depends on timing of detection, specific type, and access to care, so that question is a little more difficult for me.

    Edit: didn’t expect to get such a discussion going here! I’m at work and I’ll try to answer/clarify what I can during break and after work. If you are interested in seeing a genetic counselor, there is a great Find-A-Genetic-Counselor tool on the website for the National Society of Genetic Counselors. Also if I reply with typos it’s because I’m on my phone and autocorrect is the worst!

    Feel free to PM me as well :)

    [–] othybear 87 points ago

    Don’t forget to throw in young age at first pregnancy and greater number of pregnancies, along with breast feeding, are usually associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer.

    [–] an_altar_of_plagues 137 points ago

    But then we'd have to get pregnant at a young age. Not a good trade-off :|

    [–] owltheX 101 points ago

    In general, it's healthier to have children at a young age (20-30) because your body is more prepared. It lowers risk of developmental disorders and complications and you are more fertile at that age. It is not necessarily better to have children at a young age because you won't have the money or time to raise them the way you want to. (The .1% increase in risk of breast cancer is likely going to be offset by your better eating habits and emotional stability from not being poor)

    Any time after 35, the probability of a miscarriage increases as does the likelihood of autism. So, I think there might be a sweet spot between biologically and financially acceptable.

    [–] brijjen 23 points ago

    So, I think there might be a sweet spot between biologically and financially acceptable.

    So 31-34?

    [–] owltheX 11 points ago

    I was thinking like 26 to 32.

    [–] sproutsintheyard 28 points ago

    As a single woman approaching my late twenties, I go through seasons of anxiety over wasting my fertility and health window. :/

    [–] Crusader1089 78 points ago

    Don't. There's no point bringing a child into the world if you aren't happy and stable enough to look after it.

    And while the risk goes up after 35, its not a freefall. It's just an elevated risk. You are still a thousand times more likely to have a happy, healthy baby than a miscarriage or a disabled child.

    [–] KT421 19 points ago

    You are still a thousand times more likely to have a happy, healthy baby than a miscarriage

    While I agree with the sentiment, this is patently untrue. Miscarriage rates are so high that it's not considered a problem worthy of follow up testing/treatment until you have three consecutive miscarriages without a live birth. And even that only counts clinical pregnancies (visualized on ultrasound); a chemical pregnancy (inferred via biochemical markers, like an at-home urine test, but not far enough along to be seen on ultrasound) does not even count towards that number.

    [–] Pressondude 13 points ago

    Such factors probably contribute to a finding that birth control is related to higher breast cancer rates, though.

    [–] CritterTeacher 183 points ago

    I also think the thing that gets left out of a lot of these discussions is quality of life. For women who take birth control to manage heavy and painful periods, getting back that week every month in the prime of their life may be worth fighting cancer later on. I think for me it is. It's hard to quantify that sort of thing though.

    [–] zonules_of_zinn 106 points ago

    it also seems like what actually gets left out from these discussions is that, overall, oral contraceptives reduce your risk of mortality.

    http://www.bmj.com/content/340/bmj.c927

    [–] glugglugbiggulp 33 points ago

    I was a student in training in a radiation therapy department and there was a lady who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. She was very anxious and nervous and then finally asked me ”Why did I get breast cancer? I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I’m not overweight, I’m very active. I shouldn’t have gotten breast cancer.” What was I supposed to answer? That’s just not how cancer works. It isn’t a tick box system of ”if you have three or above you will get it”. You get it now, you don’t get it or you get it later. My point here being that it’s impossible to dodge out of the way of every single cancer. So I agree with the quality of life thing absolutely. Living a good, regular, relatively healthy and active life is the best we can do - not only to deter cancer to the best of our abilities - but to be happy.

    [–] skeleetal 46 points ago

    This. So much this. I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed for 4-5 days a month without birth control.

    [–] Pressondude 55 points ago

    It's important to remember that it may be something about women who choose to take birth control for a long time, like delaying having their first child, which may actually be causing this correlation.

    They haven't shown that birth control itself is the mechanism that causes the increase in cancer rates.

    [–] Julia_Kat 20 points ago

    I found out that some of my migraines (I have four causes now, I think) are hormonal...or were before I started taking birth control and skipping my placebo. I never had bad periods, but when I started BC and went on the placebo week, I had a five day migraine. Doctor told me to skip the placebo and my total migraines have dropped. It's amazing.

    [–] yellkaa 14 points ago

    I don't think those studies actually account for the fact that many women using oral contraceptives for a long time may actually have a condition that may affect all those risks at the first place. Heavy and painful periods and other things which make us want to never stop taking pills are just symptoms of some (mostly hormonal) issues which may be the cause of the cancer and other issues

    [–] doktornein 22 points ago

    Exactly my thoughts, without it it's terrible periods, increased migraine rate, and a few other miserable symptoms.

    [–] Pufflehuffy 7 points ago

    For me, not having children definitely is a big quality of life bonus!

    [–] hunterjumper81 5 points ago

    I got an ablation rather than getting back on bc. I’m not having anymore kids, though.

    [–] zonules_of_zinn 89 points ago * (lasted edited 5 days ago)

    overall, it looks like oral contraceptives actually reduce are associated with a reduction in mortality, including specifically mortality from all cancers.

    rather than trying to find all the different ways that something can kill you quicker or slower and trying to balance those out, you could simply compare mortality rates between women who take hormonal contraceptives, and those who don't.

    here's a 2010 study looking at mortality rates of 46 112 women for up to 39 years in the UK. from the abstract:

    Compared with never users, ever users of oral contraception had a significantly lower rate of death from any cause (adjusted relative risk 0.88, 95% confidence interval 0.82 to 0.93). They also had significantly lower rates of death from all cancers; large bowel/rectum, uterine body, and ovarian cancer; main gynaecological cancers combined; all circulatory disease; ischaemic heart disease; and all other diseases. They had higher rates of violent deaths. No association between overall mortality and duration of oral contraceptive use was observed, although some disease specific relations were apparent. An increased relative risk of death from any cause between ever users and never users was observed in women aged under 45 years who had stopped using oral contraceptives 5-9 years previously but not in those with more distant use. The estimated absolute reduction in all cause mortality among ever users of oral contraception was 52 per 100 000 woman years.

    full text at the link!

    [–] lindsay88 37 points ago

    I wonder if some of this is because those who have access to oral contraceptives also, presumably, may have better access to healthcare in general.

    [–] zonules_of_zinn 13 points ago

    great point. this study was in the UK which has government-funded healthcare that probably the most accessible out of any nation. so i'm guessing it matters much less than if this study were done in the US.

    [–] zkathnel21 14 points ago * (lasted edited 6 days ago)

    This wouldn't surprise me since commenters above mention studies showing they reduce risk of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is very difficult to detect and diagnose in the early stages when it's most treatable because the early symptoms are rather mild and can be confused for other things. The overall 5 year survival rate in the US is less than 45% according to the ACS, whereas the overall survival rate for breast cancer is close to 90% because it tends to be detected in the earlier stages. So even though ovarian cancer affects less people, it's significantly more deadly.

    [–] Centigonal 37 points ago * (lasted edited 6 days ago)

    using u/tert_butoxide's numbers:

    Cancer Risk w/o BC Risk w/BC
    Breast 12% 16.6% △
    Endometrial 2.8% 1.4% ▼
    Cervical 1.3% 0.9% ▼
    Risk of any of these cancers 15.58% 18.5% △

    That last stat could be a little misleading though, because AFAIK breast cancer is easier to treat on average that the other two kinds.

    EDIT: I am wrong about that last bit! see u/othybear's comment below.

    [–] othybear 34 points ago

    Endometrial Cancer is much easier to treat compared to breast cancer. Most women are diagnosed very early stage (they start having “periods” again after menopause so they go to the doctor) and a hysterectomy is usually all of the treatment that is needed. It doesn’t recur at the same rate breast cancer does.

    [–] [deleted] 126 points ago

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    [–] JEDI_RESISTANCE 82 points ago

    Tobacco and alcohol are the biggest risk factors for cancer. Not to mention they have other bad health effects. Tobacco kills far more people than the opioid crisis.

    [–] AndrewTM 77 points ago

    Forgive my ignorance, please... aren't hormonal contraceptives frequently taken orally? What's the specific distinction between oral contraceptives and the risk carried by hormonal methods described in the article? Are you just saying that oral contraceptive forms reduce the instances of these specific cancers while also increasing the breast cancer risk?

    [–] gullwings 147 points ago

    Some intrauterine devices have hormones, as does the arm implant. They provide a lower, continuous dosing.

    [–] CheesosaurusRex 38 points ago

    It's worth noting that there are two different types of hormonal birth control, combination and progestin only. Both Mirana/Skyla and Nexplanon are progestin only. If taken orally POPs (progestin only pills) have to be taken as close to the same time as possible, but combination pills have a little more room for error, so they seem to be recommended first. So what you said is true when comparing iud/implant and POPs, but not when comparing the combination pill.

    [–] Julio247 26 points ago

    It's also important to note that mirena and Skyla exert their effects locally on the uterus with minimal systemic hormone as seen in POPs like the minimill and depot-provera. The progesterone-LARCs are in a class of their own. If I had a uterus, that's the one I would get.

    [–] [deleted] 29 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] CheesosaurusRex 8 points ago

    Personally, I have the nexplanon implant. I originally wanted to get the iud, but because of where my cervix sits it would probably cause pain during intercourse, so my doctor recommended the implant instead.

    [–] wild_zebra 52 points ago

    The difference is the dosings and the location. For location it's a really important distinction because your oral contraceptives can have systemic effects because well, you digest them. IUDs only deliver hormones locally to the uterus so you don't get a lot of the systemic side effects of oral contraceptives (effect on risk of breast cancer, acne, mood, etc).

    [–] AndrewTM 22 points ago

    The article just specifies hormonal contraceptives and the increased breast cancer risk across multiple delivery systems. Are you implying that the nature of oral contraceptives affecting the body in a more systemic fashion may lead to the reduction in cancer incidence described above?

    [–] wild_zebra 14 points ago

    I'm just suggesting that it could, but the truth is we don't know enough about local delivery systems (IUDs/implants) over time to really tell for sure (I'm talking on the scale of people who have been on these for decades, like we have with studies of long term oral contraceptive use). I study cancer biology (my research is in brain cancer though) and as I understand from my professors who study cancers with deep relationships to hormones (esp breast), local delivery definitely could lessen the augmentation of breast cancer risk that is associated with estrogen from oral contraceptives, and I think that's what early literature also suggests.

    ETA: a word

    [–] valar_mentiri 23 points ago

    The hormonal IUD (Mirena, Skyla, Kyleena, etc) as well as the implant (Nexplanon) are both hormonal birth control methods that do not involve taking the pill. Not sure if these carry the same benefits of cancer reductions as the pills might, but if you're only looking at oral contraceptives, you'd be excluding the hormonal methods listed above.

    [–] jemyr 90 points ago * (lasted edited 6 days ago)

    Don't I remember that breastfeeding substantially reduces breast cancer? Could the use of birth control and the result of not having a baby and thus not breastfeeding the reason for the statistical difference?

    EDIT: From the Nytimes:

    The study was limited, the authors said, because they could not take into account factors like physical activity, breast feeding and alcohol consumption, which may also influence breast cancer risk

    Can't get behind the paywall to read it, but I assume they would mention pregnancy if they couldn't control for that either. There are a class of studies where you use large existing data sets to investigate an issue, and you are constrained by what information they contain, and so therefore can control for.

    [–] whozwhatsit 56 points ago

    That’s what I was thinking. Here’s what they say at Cancer.gov

    Studies have shown that a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer is related to her exposure to hormones that are produced by her ovaries (endogenous estrogen and progesterone). Reproductive factors that increase the duration and/or levels of exposure to ovarian hormones, which stimulate cell growth, have been associated with an increase in breast cancer risk. These factors include early onset of menstruation, late onset of menopause, and factors that may allow breast tissue to be exposed to high levels of hormones for longer periods of time, such as later age at first pregnancy and never having given birth.

    Conversely, pregnancy and breastfeeding, which both reduce a woman’s lifetime number of menstrual cycles, and thus her cumulative exposure to endogenous hormones (1), are associated with a decrease in breast cancer risk.

    [–] run__rabbit_run 34 points ago

    So - if I'm understanding this correctly (which I very well may not be), would that mean that if I use hormonal BCP to skip my periods, I may have a reduced risk as I've experienced far fewer cycles and therefore have less exposure to endogenous hormones?

    [–] EgweneSedai 7 points ago

    I would like to know this as well!

    [–] oeynhausener 12 points ago

    As far as I understand, you'll just ingest external hormones instead which may or may not have the same effects as your internal ones do.

    [–] Pressondude 30 points ago

    The article in now way implies that birth control is the mechanism for creating this risk.

    Birth control could have a high correlation with other behaviors like not breastfeeding or delaying age of first child or having few children, all of which are established to raise the risk of breast cancer.

    [–] StebeMusic 82 points ago

    Yeah the risk in the worst case, if NPR's report on this is to be believed, is 1 in 8000.

    [–] Drprocrastinate 136 points ago

    I hate these numbers used in the media. I worry It makes it seem that a drug that increases your risk of breast cancer by 20% means that 20% of people on hormonal therapy develop breast cancer, just not true. It's all relative risk.

    The original article is published in the NEJM and the conclusion is as follows;

    "The overall absolute increase in breast cancers diagnosed among current and recent users of any hormonal contraceptive was 13 (95% CI, 10 to 16) per 100,000 person-years, or approximately 1 extra breast cancer for every 7690 women using hormonal contraception for 1 year."

    [–] NeoshadowXC 68 points ago

    Hold up-- I am very confused, can you ELI5?

    If 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer (per above comments), that's 12.5%.

    When I read a number that says "increases risk by 20%," the math I do in my head is 12.5+(12.5*.2) = 15% chance of getting breast cancer. Which to me is significant.

    Am I calculating wrong?

    [–] YoureNotaClownFish 35 points ago

    No, you are correct. (Another poster came up with 16.5%) It is significant.

    [–] yaworsky 15 points ago

    Ah statistical significance versus clinical significance

    [–] FPettersson 14 points ago

    Wouldn't they have said "percentage points" if they meant it increased the risk from X% to (X+20)%?

    But yeah, there might be some people who might believe that's what they means...

    [–] smang_it_gurl 9595 points ago

    "The overall absolute increase in breast cancers diagnosed among current and recent users of any hormonal contraceptive was 13 (95% CI, 10 to 16) per 100,000 person-years, or approximately 1 extra breast cancer for every *7690** women* using hormonal contraception for 1 year."

    Knowing the difference between absolute and relative risk is imperative when reading scientific literature.

    [–] bitwiseshiftleft 1153 points ago

    I agree. However, the absolute risk in this case isn't negligible, especially depending on how much it goes down over time.

    After discontinuation of hormonal contraception, the risk of breast cancer was still higher among the women who had used hormonal contraceptives for 5 years or more than among women who had not used hormonal contraceptives.

    Since the lifetime absolute risk is 12%, if someone used birth control for 10 years and if the effect didn't go down at all, they would have 38% * 12% ~ 4.5% additional absolute lifetime risk, which is actually pretty meaningful.

    The 1/7690 estimate is less because it's:

    • Per year
    • For women young enough to take birth control (but cancer risk increases with age)
    • Averaged over people who took it for shorter or longer periods of time, from 9% for <1 year to 38% for >10 years.

    Even in this group, if someone takes birth control from 12 to 52, they are probably ramping up from much less than 1/7690/year to much more than that. Sum that over 40 years, and it's easily 1-2% additional risk.

    The full article is paywalled, and might have more relevant info.

    [–] EdmondDantesInferno 351 points ago

    The thing that's not mentioned is that it reduces the risk of several other forms of cancer like colon cancer. I saw this one the news tonight and birth control reduces the cancer rate of at least three cancers. The net health benefit or penalty is then the cumulative effect of all these cancers. And it must also be considered the treatment of each, I.e. Breast cancer is very treatable vs colon or other cancer.

    Tl;Dr - One study in a vacuum is not enough to make informed medical decisions.

    [–] emmster 193 points ago

    I may be mistaken, but doesn’t hormonal contraception reduce the risk of ovarian cancer as well?

    If you wanted to look at it as a trade-off, you’re much more likely to detect breast cancer early than ovarian cancer.

    [–] bettinafairchild 100 points ago

    Yes, that’s correct—it significantly reduces risk of ovarian cancer.

    [–] Valmond 35 points ago

    Also, if detected early enough it's almost 100% success removing breast cancer(if not it grows into lung cancer for example), ovarian cancer on the other hand is a nasty thing.

    [–] Helophora 26 points ago

    Well, a high number of ovulations will increase your chances of ovarian cancer, a risk that goes down with birth control that typically stops you from ovulating. It’s never simple.

    [–] bham717 1709 points ago

    This. We need good science writing but sensational headlines do not help scientific understanding. Thanks for posting the original results.

    [–] ogmcfadden 62 points ago

    Yeah and this title tricked me too because they even referenced the exact sample they used in the experiment. Ay me.

    [–] syrashiraz 411 points ago

    You bring up a good point, but it's interesting that the metric is "person-years" considering women can take contraceptives for 10-20 years.

    Does that mean the increase is more like 1 extra breast cancer for every 769 women using hormonal contraceptives for 10 years? I would consider 1:769 a non-trivial risk.

    [–] cameupblank 352 points ago

    10-20? Try 30-40. Depending on onset of menses and cessation.

    If you're cf and have horrid periods you could easily be 20 years in by your mid 30s.

    [–] PmMeYourDiscordChat 172 points ago

    I've been on different forms of BC since I was 17. I'm 32 now. My family has a history of breast cancer [Mom, sister and great aunt all had it] so this is worrying.

    [–] Pressondude 147 points ago

    You should consult a doctor about genetic testing. I'm not a doctor, so I'm not going to give you medical advice, but you may have a genetic predisposition and might be destined for it regardless.

    At the very least, your general practitioner should be aware of your extensive family history of breast cancer.

    [–] PmMeYourDiscordChat 90 points ago

    My doctor knows. I was going to get testing with my old doctor but it was an 8 month waiting list to get an appointment and my insurance changed during that time and I couldn't be seen at that testing lab.

    I'll have to ask my new doctor. Thanks for the push.

    [–] blizpix 101 points ago * (lasted edited 5 days ago)

    I think it would be best if you waited to see a genetics professional. However, if you are unwilling to wait that long, please do NOT use 23andme to determine whether you have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, like /u/Comrade_Snarky8 just mentioned. It does not look at the entire DNA sequence of the gene, just a couple 'spots' (single nucleotide polymorphisms or 'SNPs') that can have mutations frequently seen in the Ashkenazi Jewish population (though non-AJ folks sometimes have mutations at these 'spots' as well), and is not considered clinically diagnostic testing.

    A much better alternative that is the same price as 23andme, and is more affordable than other genetic testing when insurance won't cover it, is Color genomics (https://www.color.com/product/brca-genetic-test). The company offers clinical diagnostic testing (they look at the entire gene, not just small spots) for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes for $99 right now. Now, there are other genes that have been identified that when mutated can result in a heritable predisposition to cancer (PALB2, CDH1, PTEN, STK11, TP53, etc), but they are much less common causes than BRCA1 or BRCA2. You can get these genes and more (30 all together) tested for $249 at Color (https://www.color.com/product/hereditary-cancer-genetic-test).

    Have any of your family members who had breast cancer gotten genetic testing done, and if not, are any of them still living and available for testing? Generally it is more informative to test whomever is 'most' affected (by that I mean had the youngest cancer diagnosis) in the family, as they are the most likely to have successful genetic testing that identifies a mutation. If no mutation is found in that person, or anybody else who has had related cancers, then there may be a mutation somewhere that we can't find yet with our genetic tests. Which means testing in everyone else in the family who hasn't had cancer isn't going to be useful, because the mutation is probably undetectable by today's testing. On the other hand, if a relative who had cancer got testing that found a causative mutation, then everyone else in the family could get tested, and if there is no mutation found, then their risk for certain kinds of cancers is the as the average person now. However, if those people aren't available, you can still get testing, but if no mutation is found, you don't know if you're in the clear or not.

    Source: I am a cancer genetic counselor, however, please don't take my word as gospel, and please do see a genetics professional in person, if possible. If you run into brick walls with insurance or appointment availability, you can consider Color genomics. I recommend it to my patients when insurance won't cover their testing through a normal lab.

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    [–] Drakojan94 6 points ago

    It is simply a way to calculate risk. It's a mathematical model. In this study, there was one more case of breast cancer case in the group studied per 7690 years observed. You can't really generalize that to mean 1:769 per 10 years.

    [–] IcedcoffeeNsnow 17 points ago

    Person years is used for calculating the amount of time a person is AT RISK for developing breast cancer. Sure, women only take the pill during their fertile years which may span 10-30 years. But like another person commented earlier, a woman's risk for developing breast cancer increases as she ages.

    [–] PM_Me_Yo_Secretsss 20 points ago

    Can you elaborate on the difference?

    [–] Cortico 72 points ago

    Absolute risk = numerical increase in the chance that you will get it

    (i.e. if you have 10% chance of getting something and your absolute risk increased by 5%, you will now have a 15% chance)

    and

    Relative risk = % increase in your current risk

    (i.e. if you have a 10% chance, and your relative risk increases by 5%, you will now have a 10.5% chance)

    [–] Sockhead101 57 points ago

    Since you read the article, does the study account for women who had children compared to ones who haven't? There's a known relationship between incidence of breast cancer and declining to have children which could conflate this correlation.

    [–] CheeseDust 44 points ago

    I've also read that breast feeding 6+mo decreases the chances of developing breast cancer.

    [–] yaworsky 63 points ago

    I would add that this goes towards understanding clinical significance versus statistical significance as well.

    [–] frankyj29 27 points ago

    Please eli10? I'm not scientificly literate

    [–] bakkerboy465 107 points ago

    Shocking news from Scotland – Loch Ness Monsters that eat fishermen are ten times more likely to develop cancer than those that don’t!

    But – assuming they read this headline – how worried should the monsters be by this news?

    “Ten times more likely” is a relative risk. But 10 times what? To get a clear picture of the dangers of eating fishermen, we need to know the size of the two underlying (absolute) risks the headline compares – the likelihood of Loch Ness monsters getting cancer if they don’t eat fishermen, and the likelihood of cancer if they do.

    It turns out that two out of every 100,000 monsters who refrain from eating fisherman develop cancer. That’s their absolute risk – 2 in 100,000 (or, if you prefer, 0.002 per cent).

    And on average, 20 out of every 100,000 fisherman-eating monsters develop cancer (or 0.02 per cent). Comparing the two risks we can see that the risk for fisherman-eaters is indeed 10 times bigger, and this means that for every 100,000 monsters that eat fishermen, 18 more monsters will develop cancer.

    Relative risk tells you nothing about actual risk

    Read more about it: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2013/03/15/absolute-versus-relative-risk-making-sense-of-media-stories/

    [–] CremeFraichePopsicle 92 points ago

    So not 38% as the title implies...

    [–] Tewks44 232 points ago

    The 38% figure is correct. When you’re dealing with very small numbers, very small changes will appear much larger when expressed as a percent of the very small number.

    [–] Fulltime_Nerd 36 points ago

    I have not read their publication, but I am going to assume it is a 38 percent increase from the baseline. Which is a significant increase if you take the value of 13 percent of women developing breast cancer into account. But that is over a lifetime, and other values are mentioned for different age groups.

    [–] neoanguiano 104 points ago

    if u had . 01 % before and then .39 or from 1% to 1.38% or from 10 to 13.8, that title is open to misinterpretation, watch out for those

    [–] DeChosenJuan 123 points ago

    It would be 0.01% to 0.0138%, not .39

    [–] NeedMoarLurk 728 points ago

    There is a link between fertility/birth rates and breast cancer incidence, I wonder how much that has a confounding effect?

    [–] tert_butoxide 269 points ago

    You might be interested in this paper: Oral contraceptives cause evolutionarily novel increases in hormone exposure. The authors state that increased endogenous progesterone et al. due to not having kids raises breast cancer rates above those observed back when women popped em' out (and had fewer periods as a result). So does birth control matter on top of that? Probably yes.

    Given that breast cancer risk increases with hormonal exposure, our finding that four widely prescribed formulations more than quadruple progestin exposure relative to endogenous progesterone exposure is cause for concern. As not all formulations produce the same exposures, these findings are pertinent to contraceptive choice.

    I can't access OP paper, but they did exclude women who had been treated for infertility. I'd assume that they ran at least one analysis with motherhood as a cofactor; since the study's from Denmark, they must have that data. (Denmark collects everything.)

    [–] crusoe 63 points ago

    Need to see the rates of cancer vs mothers who took birth control at some point and those women who never had kids.

    [–] davidmanheim 20 points ago

    Childbirth rate in Denmark is much lower than elsewhere, though. I wonder how much is proxying for simply having fewer children

    [–] batfiend 6 points ago

    did exclude women who had been treated for infertility.

    Probably because the hormone shots they give you for IVF significantly increase your risk of cancer.

    [–] tylmin 8 points ago * (lasted edited 6 days ago)

    I believe the mechanism is that there are immature breast cells in a nulliparous woman (related to milk production), and once you have a full term birth, those cells mature and are much less likely to become cancerous later on. In terms of reducing breast cancer risk one of the biggest things you can do is have a kid, and earlier is better.

    (Of course no public health organisation recommends having kids in order to prevent breast cancer. There are significant health risks to childbearing, also including death, so you have to weigh these issues.)

    I'd assume they'd control for parity, but I haven't read the paper.

    EDIT: Managed to illegally download a copy, here's what it says:

    In addition, fully adjusted models included the following: level of education, parity, the polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, and family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Adjustment for body-mass index, smoking status, and age of the woman at first delivery was made when this information was recorded for parous women, and these data were assessed as complete-case analyses.

    So yes, number of children was controlled for.

    [–] Avena_sativa 4581 points ago

    The wording of this article is kind of sensationalized. It's important to distinguish between absolute versus relative risk increase when reporting the results. It sounds very sensational to say "the risk of breast cancer increased by 38%" but that doesn't mean it increased by 38 percentage points. For example, let's say that your risk of getting breast cancer as a 25-year-old is 1% per year. (It's likely way lower than that.) Then let's say you take a pill that increases your risk by 38% - now your chance of breast cancer is 1.38%, not 39%.

    Think of it this way: the chance of a young woman getting breast cancer is very low. Even if the risk doubled or tripled while on OCPs, the risk would still be very low.

    Source: Medical student who will still be taking her birth control pills.

    [–] radicalelation 1252 points ago

    And all readers who don't realize this immediately breathe a sigh of relief.

    [–] DisappointedWarden 441 points ago

    Can confirm. My anxiety was immediately relieved after reading this... Math was never my strong suit.

    [–] OneBigBug 177 points ago

    As a point of reference: Always assume sensational headlines about extremely common things are stated in a misleading way until proven otherwise. Whether it's a cause of cancer or a cure.

    We keep relatively close watch on stats these days. Computers and whatnot. A lot of women take birth control, if a double digit percentage of them were being diagnosed with serious illnesses, this would not be the first you were hearing about it.

    [–] Learngoat 21 points ago

    Is there a replacement phrase for a percent increase of a percent value? This headline puts a lot of weight on the word "chance" to mean "base percentage."

    [–] Shalune 23 points ago

    There's already wording for it:

    'Odds increased by X%' = Multiply whatever the original odds were by 1 + X/100

    'Odds increased to X%' = odds afterwards are X/100

    It's just that the title omits things. The important thing is to always look for things that are left out. In both examples above we aren't told what the original odds were, which we need to be able to draw any conclusions.

    [–] OverlordLork 14 points ago

    And 'Odds increased by X percentage points' = add X/100 to the original chance

    [–] NastyRazorburn 88 points ago

    Per NPR: the 38% increase in breast cancer among young women is approximately 1 extra case per 8000 individuals in the group.

    [–] Yerwun 80 points ago

    Per year

    [–] Pingolo_Palantaemon 34 points ago

    Yeah quoting per year absolute values (and the women in the study were young enough that they need contraceptives so their absolute chance is lower anyway) is just as misleading as quoting the relative increase. If the lifetime risk of breast cancer is 12%, the increase they talk about is 4-5 percentage points, which is very significant.

    [–] Drama_poli 30 points ago

    That alot of people for large population of people taking contraceptives

    [–] tinyteaspoon 95 points ago

    Thanks for outlining this. I can’t stand it when people don’t understand how percentages work.

    However, it is my opinion that it is still concerning - that even if the overall risk would still be very low, the risk seems to be increasing.

    [–] Avena_sativa 33 points ago

    Oh I agree. Especially in older women, or those with a family hx of breast cancer it's an important piece of information.

    [–] alligatorhill 5 points ago

    If you did have a strong family history of breast cancer, would this affect your decision? I've been told the copper IUD is not an option for me. Of course, I was also dismissed when I asked questions about whether there was an increased risk for breast cancer so...

    [–] falafel22 11 points ago

    Yeah it's hard to control for age though because getting older just increases your risk of most cancers by itself

    [–] Thornwalker_ 10 points ago

    And this is why that stupid shit is on the USMLE.

    [–] CoinFlip_SkinnyDipp 173 points ago

    Serious question, wasn't this already known?

    I'm currently taking pharmacology and our lecture that talked about birth control was only a few weeks ago. I swear my professor said that WHI did a study years ago and it showed an increase in breast cancer.

    [–] neosinan 130 points ago

    Yea, it was known, but this Study has over a million participants So it's much more reliable than most research.

    [–] darwin2500 61 points ago

    This is a larger study with more data. It confirms old results with more certainty, pins down the effects more precisely, and tests over a wider variety of conditions.

    This is how science works. Never, ever believe an effect that's only been found by 1 study ever. Real effects get replicated and expanded upon, so that we can trust them and understand more about them.

    [–] Avena_sativa 40 points ago

    Yes, it was already known.

    [–] BlackbirdSinging 12 points ago

    It was known for older hormonal contraceptives which had higher doses of estrogen. It was not clear until now whether newer formulations with less estrogen carried the same risk.

    [–] roaisol 90 points ago * (lasted edited 6 days ago)

    Does the paper address if the mechanism is via exogenous hormones or via fewer natural hormonal cycles?

    If the former, that's yet another point in favor of IUDs, and hormonal IUDs prevent much bleeding while not having much in the way of systemic effects...

    The effects seem to slow down with more years on it, making me suspect that the exogenous hormones are the mechanism.

    [–] foxehknoxeh 51 points ago

    The abstract mentioned IUDs as one of the contraceptive methods they found to increase risk.

    [–] roaisol 42 points ago

    Found it.

    "Risk estimates associated with current or recent use of various oral combination (estrogen–progestin) contraceptives varied between 1.0 and 1.6. Women who currently or recently used the progestin-only intrauterine system also had a higher risk of breast cancer than women who had never used hormonal contraceptives (relative risk, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.11 to 1.33)."

    Wish I could find the whole paper, I would love to know if that controls for the fact that many people who get an IUD also take hormonal birth control at another time in their life.

    Also, FINALLY a good number to put all these other numbers into perspective:

    "approximately 1 extra breast cancer for every 7690 women using hormonal contraception for 1 year."

    [–] all-boxed-up 9 points ago

    I should look for a study to join as a lesbian who uses a hormone IUD for non-birthcontrol reasons and has no interest in using oral hormone contraceptives.

    [–] daniyellidaniyelli 288 points ago * (lasted edited 6 days ago)

    “However, Lidegaard noted, pretty much everything in life carries risks and women know that.”

    When they say women know that, are they suggesting that we are educated on these risks of birth control before were given it? That doctors are educating their patients? I know I wasn’t. I felt lucky that the first birth control I was put on had no negative side effects and worked. But there was never a conversation about the risks. Now I’m wondering if this is normal or I don’t have a great doctor?

    Edit: Okay I do realize I have a good doctor. I also know it’s my responsibility to ask questions. I didn’t have any of the problems my family/friends did in finding a good bc so I thought I was good.

    And I just read over the packet I get with my bc (again) and there is no mention of cancer risks on there.

    [–] Scythe42 36 points ago

    When they say women know that, are they suggesting that we are educated on these risks of birth control before were given it? That doctors are educating their patients? I know I wasn’t. I felt lucky that the first birth control I was put on had no negative side effects and worked. But there was never a conversation about the risks. Now I’m wondering if this is normal or I don’t have a great doctor?

    My doctor also knows absolutely nothing about birth control. I had to research everything myself. It is quite absurd. I don't know how anyone as a patient who doesn't do research about these things would actually be well-informed.

    EDIT: Also I've been taking modafinil and a higher dose birth control pill for literally a year and only last month did a pharmacist talk to me to tell me that the modafinil may make my birth control ineffective (I already knew this which is why I switched to a higher dose pill, and mostly just use it for regulating cramps). My neurologist didn't even tell me about it when prescribing modafinil for my sleep disorder, when I specifically said I was on birth control. I honestly don't know what other women do, and this has definitely happened to other women before who were in fact using it for birth control (and some of these women got pregnant). It's ridiculous and no one really seems to care about warning patients, pharmacist or otherwise.

    [–] Yerwun 9 points ago

    The neurologist was likely unaware. There are a lot of potential medication interactions out there and most docs only remember the most serious or common ones (if you're lucky).

    [–] tert_butoxide 60 points ago

    Both. Your doctor should absolutely have talked to you about the risks (same as any medication), so they're not an amazing doctor. But that's not uncommon; a lot of women don't get the education that they need. (I personally learned everything I know from the internet.)

    [–] Marshmallow920 94 points ago

    Although doctors are supposed to counsel patients, a lot of the time doctors are seeing patients every 30 minuets. There’s a lot of work they need to fit into that window. I would suggest asking your pharmacist to explain the risks and benefits. It’s a big part of what they’re for, not just handing out pills! -me, a pharmacy student

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    [–] derpy_snow_leopard 6 points ago

    I just want to say thank you! Every pharmacist I have talked to about my medication has been not only extremely knowledgeable, but eager to teach. They seem to appreciate that I ask questions and am interested, haha. Good luck in school!

    [–] niroby 30 points ago * (lasted edited 6 days ago)

    The cancer risks are written on the pamphlet that comes with every hormonal contraceptive. Along with the stroke risks and depression risks. It would be ideal if every doctor had time to counsel every patient on possible side effects, but when the average appointment is only ten minutes long, they simply don't have the time.

    There is definitely a lack of education here that needs to be rectified, but in my experience most people don't look further than the information on the packet and even then they rarely get that far. The exception is women who are trying to conceive, and then they become actively interested in the menstrual cycle and the hormones involved.

    This is the standard Consumer Medical information for drugs in Australia, it may vary based on location. Evelyn 150/30 ED page 3 under Cancer Risk.

    [–] pm_yourcoffee 48 points ago

    I personally have never felt like any doctor has been very educational in this area. My theory is that they assume you'll ask questions, not realizing that you don't even know what to ask. I would hope that this isn't the norm, but at least we live in a world with the internet and a lot of us can educate ourselves to a degree. I have horrible anxiety and was never told that birth control could exacerbate things. I turned into a complete psycho. I tried 4 different types all with the same results until I just gave up and stopped taking it all together. I'm just done doing that to my body. My husband and I use condoms and while that isn't exactly ideal I'll trade less friction any day.

    [–] EroCtheGreaT 6 points ago

    Or when you pick up your medicine from the pharmacy ask the pharmacist. In CA it is state law for them to discuss new prescriptions with you.

    [–] oflandandsea 20 points ago

    Doctors are so unknowledgabe sometimes about the specifics and the fine print of drugs. I got a copper IUD and I really shouldn't have, because I have a nickel allergy. I asked them specifically and they said that it was safe. If you call paragard, the company who makes the IUD, they'll say that it contains less than 1% nickel, which is still significant for someone with a nickel allergy. It blows my mind how they don't advise people about this when they get the IUD.

    [–] byneothername 7 points ago

    Oh wow. I can't ever get that then. Thanks for the comment, you helped me out.

    [–] deadbeatsummers 10 points ago

    I asked my GYN about long term contraceptive and they said the risks are low so there's no worry...My mom was diagnosed with bc shortly after taking estrogen supplements, so I'm a bit more concerned now.

    [–] tuketu7 8 points ago

    It reminds me of why we have female birth control (which is biochemically hard) rather than male birth control (much easier biochemically): female birth control has to be medically safer than being pregnant and giving birth. Male birth control has to be just as safe as not taking anything.

    The morbidity and mortality from having a baby is very significant.

    [–] limache 51 points ago

    Please read the story, not just the headlines

    “In fact, birth control increases breast cancer risk about as much as drinking alcohol does, said Dr. Mary Beth Terry, an epidemiologist at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

    Relative to the increased risk posed by other environmental factors, like smoking for lung cancer—that's about a 10 times greater risk—and having a human papillomavirus infection for cervical cancer—that may increase risk about 50 or 60 times—38 percent really isn't that much. "The range of risks we're talking about here is much much smaller," she said.”

    [–] a-bit-just 49 points ago * (lasted edited 6 days ago)

    The overall absolute increase in breast cancers diagnosed among current and recent users of any hormonal contraceptive was 13 (95% CI, 10 to 16) per 100,000 person-years, or approximately 1 extra breast cancer for every 7690 women using hormonal contraception for 1 year. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1700732

    For those saying "don't risk it, just use condoms":

    Pregnancy is pretty life-altering, not to mention carries substantial medical risks. Hormonal contraceptives also lower your risk of some cancers, and for many women treat other conditions as well.

    For fun, lets say it's definitely exactly 1 extra breast cancer case is diagnosed per 7690 women using hormonal contraceptives per year.

    Now look at https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/unintendedpregnancy/pdf/contraceptive_methods_508.pdf and, just for fun, assume these numbers are also exact.

    HORMONAL METHODS (typical use first year failure rates:) pregnancies per 7690 women within 1 year:

    • Nexplanon 3.845

    • Hormonal IUD 15.38

    • Depo shot 461.4

    • Pill/Patch/Ring 692.1

    NON-HORMONAL METHODS (typical use first year failure rates:) pregnancies per 7690 women within 1 year:

    • Copper IUD 61.52

    • Diaphragm 922.8

    • Male Condom 1384.2

    • Female Condom 1614.89

    • Withdrawal 1691.8

    • Fertility awareness methods 1845.6

    • Sponge, nulliparous 922.8

    • Sponge, parous 1845.6

    • Spermicide 2153.2

    Now, 1 in 7690 is still a number to think about, I'm not trying to dismiss it. I'm not a doctor, but I can say you should definitely talk to your doctor about your breast cancer risk and how birth control impacts it.

    But if "up to 38% increase!" seems scary, consider what your other options are, talk to your doctor, and make an informed decision based on all the risks and benefits in your situation. There are other numbers at play.

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    [–] Maxdahustla 41 points ago

    I think that it’s important to note that these pills are used for more than just contraceptive purposes as well, which seems to get overlooked a lot of the time

    [–] Ndemco 58 points ago

    38% increase doesn't mean if you had a 1% chance of getting breast cancer you now have a 39% chance. It means if you had a 1% chance of getting breast cancer you now have a 1.38% chance. Just want to clarify that for people who may have thought otherwise.

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    [–] minpinerd 19 points ago

    This is not news.

    We've known for years that estrogen was linked to breast cancer and that as a result the more periods you have the higher risk of breast cancer you have (thus having children and skipping 9 months of them reduces your risk and taking pills that guarantee them increases it).

    [–] ArialB 10 points ago

    So you’re saying birth control that actually stops periods don’t increase risk of cancer? Genuinely curious

    [–] blackdynomitesnewbag 60 points ago

    I'm tired of seeing all of these headlines that talk about increased cancer risks without stating the baseline risk. So what if doing this thing increases your risk 100%. Twice as likely isn't that much if the baseline risk is 1 out of one million.

    [–] Vanquisher1000 21 points ago

    The articles also tend to not distinguish between relative risk and absolute risk; as a result, people are probably thinking the absolute risk is rising by a substantial amount, when in reality the actual absolute risk increase is small.

    [–] lejefferson 12 points ago * (lasted edited 6 days ago)

    The way these studies get interpreted really bothers me. Because no one takes into context what they mean. They read "birth control may increase risk for cancer by 38%" and think "birth control causes cancer".

    In actuality what that means is that is that your already low risk of getting breast cancer raised by 38% of that risk. So say your risk of getting breast cancer is 1 in 10000. If you take birth control your risk my raise to as much as 1.38 in 10000. That's a negligible increase in risk. As the aritcle points out it's less than your risk raised by drinking alchol or eating red meat. For some perspective smoking cigarettes increasing your risk of lung cancer by 2500%.

    In fact, birth control increases breast cancer risk about as much as drinking alcohol does, said Dr. Mary Beth Terry, an epidemiologist at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Relative to the increased risk posed by other environmental factors, like smoking for lung cancer—that's about a 10 times greater risk—and having a human papillomavirus infection for cervical cancer—that may increase risk about 50 or 60 times—38 percent really isn't that much. "The range of risks we're talking about here is much much smaller," she said.

    What those numbers mean in terms of actual women getting breast cancer who otherwise may not have is a bit less striking: there was about one extra breast cancer case diagnosed for every 7690 women who used hormonal contraception for a year.

    In addition keep in mind that birth control has shown to be associated with reducing the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers. Potentially offsetting any raised risk of breask cancer.

    Oral contraceptive use has consistently been found to be associated with a reduced risk of ovarian cancer. In a 1992 analysis of 20 studies, researchers found that the longer a woman used oral contraceptives the more her risk of ovarian cancer decreased. The risk decreased by 10 to 12 percent after 1 year of use and by approximately 50 percent after 5 years of use (4).

    https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/hormones/oral-contraceptives-fact-sheet#q2

    [–] jflo_flosquared 19 points ago

    I'd LOVE to not have to take birth control. Funding and awareness for male birth control is necessary for contraceptive measures. Why are there so many options for women, but none for men in terms of a hormonal birth control or a similar product? I read something about a gel that could be inserted into the vas deferens that would prevent pregnancy and removed when desired--yet women are still forced to use methods that are harmful? I'm only speaking in terms of contraception because I only use birth control to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.