Contraceptive pills have become popular now but the impact will lead to higher risk of breast cancer later in life, warn scientists.
Researchers from the University of Michigan found that some commonly prescribed birth control pills can quadruple the levels of synthetic estrogen and progesterone hormones, which increase the risk of breast cancers. The treatment of breast cancer is mainly focused on hormone therapy.
The blood tests on women who use birth control pills contained much higher levels of hormones compared to those who did not and the results showed that 4 out of 7 formulations tested were found to quadruple the levels of progestin, a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone.
Another test showed 40% higher exposure to ethinyl estradiol, synthetic estrogen, another major cause for breast cancer.
Study’s lead author Beverly Strassmann said that there is an urgent need for pharma companies to redesign the birth control pills so they do not cause breast cancer among women. Their research showed that one percent of breast cancer cases are caused by the use of oral contraceptive pills.
“Not enough has changed over the generations of these drugs and given how many people take hormonal birth control worldwide – millions – the pharmaceutical industry shouldn’t rest on its laurels,” she said.
In a previous study, birth control pills were found to have caused a small but significant increase in the risk of the most common type of stroke. The study published in the journal MedLink Neurology in 2015 showed that “the risk seems higher and, in most cases, oral contraceptive use should be discouraged.”
Marisa McGinley, Sarkis Morales-Vidal, and Jose Biller of Loyola University Medical Center and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine studied about 100 million women worldwide who used oral contraceptives. Birth control pills increase the risk 1.9 times, to 8.5 strokes per 100,000 women, which means one out of 24,000 women would experience the stroke.
Early versions of the pill contained doses of synthetic estrogen as high as 150 micrograms, though they have come down to 20 to 35 micrograms now and not more than 50 micrograms. In the United States, there are about 40 brands of oral contraceptives and 21 brands of emergency contraceptive pills.