Can Birth Control Lower Cancer Risk?: March 27, 2017
From pills, to shots, even implants, birth control can come in many forms. Doctors say each dose may also protect women from more than just pregnancy.
Dr. Samith Sandadi, an ob/gyn on staff with Lee Health, says studies show birth control can lower your risk for cancer. “There are multiple studies that have been done not only in this country, but internationally, that have looked at birth control users and compared it to non-users and these studies have shown that oral contraceptive pills do reduce the risk in ovarian and endometrial cancer.”
Endometrial cancer is the most common cancer of the reproductive organs, whereas ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer among women. If caught in time, both can be treated with surgery and chemotherapy, but studies show both can be prevented if a woman has taken birth control for a period of time.
“In ovarian cancer, it reduces the risk and even after you stop taking it, it still reduces risk for up to about 30 years, verses in endometrial cancer it reduces the risk and after you stop taking it it continues to lower that risk for another 15 years,” said Dr. Sandadi.
Doctors say the reason has to do with the added hormone from the birth control. “It’s got to do with the hormonal balance because you know most birth control pills contain estrogen and progesterone, and different combinations, different doses,” said Dr. Sandadi.
But like any medication, where there’s benefit there’s also risk. “Many studies have shown that birth control specifically, oral contraception, may increase your risk of getting cervical cancer. However, with current screening technology, pap smears, and following up with your primary physician and your ob/gyn these cancers can be caught very, very early on. So when you think about it that way the benefits still outweighs the risk,” said Dr. Sandadi.