The first oral contraceptive was approved by the FDA in 1960. And we’ve got some good news for women who use them. A study on oral hormonal birth control found women using these products had decreased risk for certain types of cancer. Furthermore, researchers did NOT find an increased risk of producing cancers later in life. The rate of decrease was as follows:

  • endometrial cancer – 34%
  • ovarian cancer – 33%
  • bowel cancer – 19%

What To Know About Taking Birth Control

The study results were not all positive, however. Results showed a 4% increased risk of developing breast cancer. Luckily, the risk went away five years after women stopped taking the pill. If you’re concerned about the hormones in oral birth control, you may consider an alternative nonhormonal option such as an intrauterine device (IUD). They are not linked to breast cancer and could also lower your risk of endometrial and cervical cancers. Here are my recommendations for women taking oral birth control pills:

  • Check Your Blood Pressure – birth control pills can slightly elevate your blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about other options if you have high blood pressure.
  • Avoid Estrogen If – there is a slightly increased risk for blood clots when taking oral contraceptives. Women who smoke, have a history of heart disease, or have a history of deep vein thrombosis should avoid contraceptives containing estrogen.
  • See Your Doctor If – severe headaches, blurred vision, chest pain, stomach pain, or aching legs can all be symptoms of serious disorders. See your doctor immediately if you develop these symptoms.
  • Perform Self-Breast Exams – examine your breasts monthly and see your doctor if you notice any changes.

If you experience any of the symptoms listed below, see your doctor immediately. These are red flags that could mean you have cancer:

  • sudden, unexplained weight loss
  • blood in your urine or stool
  • coughing up blood
  • lump in your breast
  • lump in your armpit

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