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Hormonal Contraception and Breast Cancer – Confusion and Questions

With all the advances in medicine and clinical science that are reported each week, it can become difficult to separate the relevant information from everything else. While it is true that each scientific development has an effect on the world, not every study, experiment, or poll influences your life directly. Sometimes, unsettling health reports do apply to a behavior, medication, or genetic trait you have, but it is important to take all the information into account and not assume the worst.

For example, a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found a correlation between hormonal contraception use and increased risk of breast cancer. Taken as a headline or brief blurb, this type of information could be used to attract attention rather than honestly and ethically inform readers. Most people who view a headline such as “Link Found Between Hormonal Birth Control and Breast Cancer” are likely to be alarmed, and rightfully so! However, even after reading the results, which state that the increased risk from hormonal contraception use is actually 1 case for every 7,690 women, viewers will likely only remember that brief feeling of panic from seeing the headline rather than the actual data.

Of course, any claim like this should be taken seriously, and the scientific community will continue to devote resources to cancer studies for years to come. Millions of women rely on hormonal contraception, and the effort to combat breast cancer is one of the most significant movements in medicine and public awareness to ever occur. That being said, the overall risk for breast cancer in women who use hormonal birth control is low, and this form of contraception has actually been known to decrease the risk of colon, ovarian, and endometrial cancer, as well as overall cancer risk. Just as importantly, additional research is required before any substantial result is found, and this particular study, confined to northern Europe, had its share of limitations. Even if further studies do substantiate these results, there are numerous treatment methods for cancer patients and steps women can take in daily life, such as increased exercise, to reduce their risk for breast cancer.

It is up to you, the reader, to remember to remain calm when you see any medical headline that might affect you. Look into these cases seriously when possible, but panicking never helps when it comes to the hundreds of articles we see each day or your personal health. In fact, the aggravation caused from viewing online newsfeeds is practically a major health concern itself! Remember, you are the one affected by this information—NOT the newsfeed. So, don’t let these types of headlines get the better of you and your health, and approach every article with the knowledge that there is always more information available to you and more you can do no matter what your circumstances may be. Here at Las Vegas ObGyn, we are always here to answer your questions and concerns. Do not hesitate to reach out to us and/or share this with someone you know who can benefit from this information. Our goal is to provide women and their families with the most current, factual health education.

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