Summary: Long-Term Use of Oral Contraceptives Early in Life Increases  Risk of Breast Cancer

Risk increases for women and girls who take oral contraceptives and are genetically predisposed to breast cancer.

  • Among women that are genetically susceptible to early-onset breast cancer (BRCA1 mutation carriers), the risk for cancer increased when these women used oral contraceptives in the following situations: 1) if they used contraceptives before 1975,  2) if they used contraceptives before age 30,  and 3) if they used contraceptives for five or more years.  In this study, women were grouped on the basis of their date of birth, their current age, their ethnicity, and their country of residence and all this data was aligned with their incidence of breast cancer. The results of this matched-case control study indicate that younger women with BRCA1 mutations who use oral contraceptives for 5 or more years had an increased risk of breast cancer.  The risk of breast cancer in BRCA2 mutation carriers does not appear to be associated with oral contraceptives, but as these were a small subgroup in the study, further studies are necessary to confirm that observation. 

1Oral Contraceptives and the Risk of Breast Cancer in BRCA1 and BRCA2 Mutation Carriers, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 94, No. 23, Dec. 2002, pp.1773-1779


  Real Alternatives -, all rights reserved 2010 - present