Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Contraception and Cancer

Kaiser Family Foundation's Daily Women's Health Policy Report highlights a study conducted by the British Medical Journal that shows women who take oral contraceptives for less than 8 years are up to 12 percent less likely to get cancer. But taking oral contraceptives for more than 8 years can increase the risk by up to 22 percent.

There has been a lot of debate about the effect of hormonal birth control on women's overall health. Especially because when birth control was first introduced, the hormonal levels were too high and made many women sick. We've come a long way since 1960, though, and women have safely been using oral contraception for more than 40 years. In some cases, like the study above, it can actually be beneficial to women's health.

Conservative groups, however, may seize on this news to say that women shouldn't be on oral contraceptives because they're bad for them. (I can just imagine the Family Research Council email now.) Even if the use of oral contraceptives for more than 8 years increases the risk of cancer slightly, there are other things--like smoking--that drastically increases the risk of cancer by a lot more.

Cross-posted at

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