A WORD TO MY PATIENTS ABOUT THE RECENT NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE ON BREAST CANCER RISK AND BIRTH CONTROL

On Dec 7, 2017, the NY Times published an article titled "Birth Control Pills Still Linked to Breast Cancer, Study Finds". For years now, there has been a well-established association between birth control pill use and breast cancer,  The Time references a newly published article in the New England Journal of Medicine which studied a larger number of women and looked at more types of birth control than had been previously studied.  There was little new information, just confirming what we already know and giving us more accurate numbers.

Unfortunately, the NY Times article inaccurately summarized the conclusions of the NEJM article. The Time stated., "the new paper estimated  that fir every 100,000 women, hormone contraceptive use causes an additional 13 breast cancers a year.  The New England Journal article DID NOT CONCLUDE that contraception caused additional breast cancer causes. It did confirm what prior studies had shown, that there is an association with birth control and breast cancer.  here are the details:

  • In woman 14-49 years old, the risk of invasive breast cancer is 55 women out of every 100,000 women per year

  • In woman 14-49 years old who use birth control (estrogen/progesterone combo or progesterone alone), the risk of invasive breast cancer is 68 women out of every 100,000 women per year.

There was no control for drug or alcohol use, obesity, family history of breast cancer, exercise level etc.

IN OTHER WORDS, WE DO NOT HAVE ANY EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST THAT USING BIRTH CONTROL CAUSES BREAST OR ANY OTHER KIND OF CANCER.

As with all medication, there is a risk and benefit and we work hard to make sure this balance works in favor of our patients' long term health and wellness.

If you have any further concerns, please fee free to make an appointment to see or speak with me.

Thank you for your trust,

Dr. Scalfano