It's day six in our nine day series highlighting key steps and practical tips that can help women lower their risk of breast cancer. Previous days.
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Day 6 - Avoid Birth Control Pills - Particularly After Age 35 or If You Smoke
There’s no denying that birth control pills have been a fantastic innovation – empowering women by putting them in charge of their own reproductive planning. But, like any medication, no matter how great the benefits, there are some risks that go along with them. For standard birth control pills, the most notable side effects are an increased risk of breast cancer, as well as of stroke and heart attack, particularly if a woman smokes and is over age 35. The good news is that the increase in breast cancer risk is temporary; about 10 years after stopping, risk drops to near that of a woman who has never taken the pill.
Because most women who take birth control pills are young and healthy, the risks linked to their use are usually outweighed in most women’s minds by the benefits – which in addition to preventing unwanted pregnancy also include a lower risk of ovarian, uterine, and colon cancer.
For a small group of women, though, who may be at high risk of breast cancer or simply concerned about breast cancer, avoiding birth control pills is one option to lower risk. The best source of information about the risks and benefits of birth control pills is a health care provider.
Tips and Tricks – Birth Control PillsDon’t worry too much. For most women, the risks of birth control pills are outweighed by their benefits. Talk to a health care provider to find out how birth control pills may impact your health.
Next Steps – Birth Control PillsLooking for more in-depth information on birth control pills? Here are some good sources:
National Cancer Institute
Susan G. Komen
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Excerpted from TOGETHER - Every Woman's Guide to Preventing Breast Cancer
Photo: Flickr/tuncay (CC license)