The New England Journal of Medicine has published a Danish study, funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, which shows that the risk of breast cancer is greater for women who use hormonal birth control.
The contraceptive use of 1.8 million women was studied, and it revealed that “[t]he risk of breast cancer was higher among women who currently or recently used contemporary hormonal contraceptives than among women who had never used hormonal contraceptives, and this risk increased with longer durations of use; however, absolute increases in risk were small.”
The New York Times, however, presents these “increases in risk” as not so small for everyone. Older women and women who use birth control for 10 years or more have a 38 percent greater risk of developing breast cancer, according to the study, compared to a 20 percent increased risk among hormonal contraceptive users overall. Researcher Lina S. Mørch stated it is “very clear… very convincing” that the relationship between breast cancer and hormonal birth control “is causal.”
The study “upends widely held assumptions about modern contraceptives for younger generations of women,” the Times states, adding:
The new paper estimated that for every 100,000 women, hormone contraceptive use causes an additional 13 breast cancer cases a year. That is, for every 100,000 women using hormonal birth control, there are 68 cases of breast cancer annually, compared with 55 cases a year among nonusers.
The Times also notes that this link between breast cancer risk and contraception was established “years ago,” but the Danish study “is the first to examine the risks associated with current formulations of birth control pills and devices in a large population.” Implants and IUDs which utilize hormones were found to be risky, as was progestin, which the Times says is “widely used in today’s birth control methods” and “may be raising breast cancer risk.”
An accompanying commentary to the study, from Oxford professor of epidemiology and medicine, David J. Hunter, says that “the new study did not find that any modern contraceptives were risk-free.” The Times quotes Hunter:
“There was a hope that the contemporary preparations would be associated with lower risk,” he said in an interview. “This is the first study with substantial data to show that’s not the case.”
The Danish researchers stated that they expected to find a lower risk of breast cancer today as compared to years ago, when more estrogen was used in birth control, but they didn’t. However, they found “no increased risk for breast cancer seen in women who used hormones for less than one year.”
A breast cancer connection is not the only reason why women may want to avoid hormonal contraception. Birth control manufacturer labels confirm that part of the mechanism in hormonal contraception is preventing a newly-fertilized human zygote from implanting in the uterine wall. Implantation usually takes place around 8 days after the new human life has begun, which means that a chemical which disrupts this process is considered an abortifacient — something which causes a new human life to be aborted.
The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) refers to author Randy Alcorn, who, in 1997, interviewed pharmacist Richard Hill, an employee of “Ortho-McNeil’s [hormonal contraceptive manufacturer] product information department.” Hill was quoted as saying of hormonal contraception’s mechanisms, “The cervical mucus slows down the sperm. And if that doesn’t work, if you end up with a fertilized egg, it won’t implant and grow because of the less hospitable endometrium.’… [I]t’s not theoretical. It’s observable. We know what an endometrium looks like when it’s rich and most receptive to the fertilized egg [zygote].”
The news about a link to breast cancer comes at the same time that Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards gave an interview in which she labeled a non-hormonal method of tracking fertility, known as Natural Family Planning, as “insane.” However, she confused NFP with another, less reliable, method of birth control. Earlier this year, Live Action News noted a new type of fertility tracking created by a female nuclear physicist, an app known as Natural Cycles, which is reportedly 93 percent effective at preventing pregnancy.
According to the New York Times, 10 million American women use the birth control pill. Those women, along with those who choose to use a patch, a shot, an implant, or an IUD, deserve to know the risks involved in using hormonal contraceptives.