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News to Me: The Pill Causes Slight Risk of Cervical Cancer

Knowing that so many of you take birth control pills, I thought you'd want to hear the latest news. A recent British study shows that when you take oral contraceptives, you are slightly increasing your risk for developing cervical cancer. The good news is that when you stop taking the pill, after ten years that small risk disappears.

This study showed that out of 1,000 women who didn't use the pill, 3.8 would develop cervical cancer by age 50. Out of 1,000 women who did use the pill, only 4.5 women would develop cervical cancer. This shows that taking birth control pills raises a woman's risk only barely, but doesn't pose a huge risk as previously thought.

This is great news for women who were concerned about oral contraceptives and the negative effects on their bodies. It's still very important to continue regular screenings for cervical cancer, especially since 70% of all cervical cancers are caused by HPV, which is a sexually transmitted virus.

Dear's Advice: Don't lose sleep worrying about your risk of cervical cancer while on the pill. If you have any questions about any other possible health risks, talk to your gynecologist.

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ginghamgirl ginghamgirl 8 years
you also have to consider this: is the relationship a direct causal effect or a mere correlation?
pebby01 pebby01 8 years
wow those were very smart comments you guys made, and brought up points that i didn't even think about. when i first read the post, i thought it was ironic that the pill lowers your risk of breast cancer, but raises the risk (even though just slighty) of cervical cancer.
pebby01 pebby01 8 years
wow those were very smart comments you guys made, and brought up points that i didn't even think about. when i first read the post, i thought it was ironic that the pill lowers your risk of breast cancer, but raises the risk (even though just slighty) of cervical cancer.
BRANDYNICOLE730 BRANDYNICOLE730 8 years
I agree with the most of ya'll, but have to add: it's the sleeping with multiple partners that can cause HPV, not just having a lot of sex, or being sexually active, if it's monogomous. I do understand, that you can be in a monogomous relationship, and still contract HPV due to the male's inability to be tested or show symptoms. And, you have to look at the other side. The Pill reduces a woman's risk of ovarian cancer. The key should be, don't get HPV!
bastille_75 bastille_75 8 years
facin8me, thank you soooo much for the information!!! Reading your explanation i just had a light bulb over go on over my head. So, cervical cancer is caused my HPV and women who take birth control pills are just at slightly higher risk to develop cervical cancer through HPV! So, then yes, the moral of the story is do not have unprotected sex.
pinupsweetheart pinupsweetheart 8 years
Whoa. That is news to me too. I have read a lot of women here on GT that don't get their annual pap. That to me is crazy. It is only once a year and takes two minutes tops!
ThePerfectScore ThePerfectScore 8 years
Facin8me I think you are right about the riskier behavior... I doubt the pill itself is the cause...
facin8me facin8me 8 years
Bastille75- Cervical cancer is caused by HPV. There are many different strains of HPV- some are termed "low-risk" strains and are the cause of genital warts, others are termed "high risk" and can lead to the abnormal cellular changes that ultimately lead to cervical cancer unless treated by a doctor. There are 4 common types of HPV that contribute to 70% of the cases of cervical cancer; the remaining cases of cervical cancer are still due to HPV, but less common types. (I realize that the information DearSugar quotes above is directly from the msn.com article; however the reporter misconstrued what the researcher said- the study found that over 70% of the cancers tested positive for HPV 16 or 18, only two of the types of HPV associated with cervical cancer). The research that DearSugar mentions above was a study that looked at a sample of women without cervical cancer and a sample of women with cervical cancer and asked them about different health concerns. The researchers found a very slight increase in cervical cancer incidence among women who used birth control pills. This should not be construed to mean that there is a hormone that causes cervical cancer, instead it is simply a correlation that may be due to women engaging in more frequent or riskier sexual behavior (i.e. not wearing a condom) when they use birth control pills.
facin8me facin8me 8 years
Bastille75- Cervical cancer is caused by HPV. There are many different strains of HPV- some are termed "low-risk" strains and are the cause of genital warts, others are termed "high risk" and can lead to the abnormal cellular changes that ultimately lead to cervical cancer unless treated by a doctor. There are 4 common types of HPV that contribute to 70% of the cases of cervical cancer; the remaining cases of cervical cancer are still due to HPV, but less common types. (I realize that the information DearSugar quotes above is directly from the msn.com article; however the reporter misconstrued what the researcher said- the study found that over 70% of the cancers tested positive for HPV 16 or 18, only two of the types of HPV associated with cervical cancer).The research that DearSugar mentions above was a study that looked at a sample of women without cervical cancer and a sample of women with cervical cancer and asked them about different health concerns. The researchers found a very slight increase in cervical cancer incidence among women who used birth control pills. This should not be construed to mean that there is a hormone that causes cervical cancer, instead it is simply a correlation that may be due to women engaging in more frequent or riskier sexual behavior (i.e. not wearing a condom) when they use birth control pills.
silver4 silver4 8 years
I'm agreeing with all the above posters... Women taking OC are defintiely less likely to use condoms, increasing their chances of contracting HPV (men are asymptomatic and can carry the disease for a very long time, so your monogamous partner might well give you HPV...) The authors of this study might well have addressed this, but from the information we have... I'd say the take home message is to use condoms until you have been in a monogamous relationship long enough to be tested for all STDs. And get the cervical cancer vaccine!
silver4 silver4 8 years
I'm agreeing with all the above posters... Women taking OC are defintiely less likely to use condoms, increasing their chances of contracting HPV (men are asymptomatic and can carry the disease for a very long time, so your monogamous partner might well give you HPV...) The authors of this study might well have addressed this, but from the information we have... I'd say the take home message is to use condoms until you have been in a monogamous relationship long enough to be tested for all STDs. And get the cervical cancer vaccine!
bastille_75 bastille_75 8 years
I would like to preface this comment with the disclaimer that I have no actual medical knowledge at all. . . but I think the doctors conducting the experiment would be able to isolate the cervical cancer caused by hormones found in birth-control pills as opposed to cervical cancer caused by HPV. And since I have no actual medical knowledge, i always thought that HPV was the only cause of cervical cancer - can some please explain the 70% v. 100% thing? I would really appreciate it - knowledge is power!!!Thanks Dear Sugar and Facin8me!!
mrskrismendoza mrskrismendoza 8 years
There is always bad news.Sigh.
mrskrismendoza mrskrismendoza 8 years
There is always bad news. Sigh.
facin8me facin8me 8 years
DearSugar, I'd like to point out some misinformation in the above post. 70% of all cervical cancers are caused by the four most common types of HPV. However, almost 100% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV when you consider all strains of HPV. 7kimba7, I totally agree with your analysis.
facin8me facin8me 8 years
DearSugar, I'd like to point out some misinformation in the above post.70% of all cervical cancers are caused by the four most common types of HPV. However, almost <b>100%</b> of cervical cancers are caused by HPV when you consider all strains of HPV. 7kimba7, I totally agree with your analysis.
7kimba7 7kimba7 8 years
oh caryatid... your comment on correlations remind me of when I was in school... "Correlation does not equal causation." Thanks, Sister Gertrude.
7kimba7 7kimba7 8 years
oh caryatid... your comment on correlations remind me of when I was in school... "Correlation does not equal causation."Thanks, Sister Gertrude.
caryatid caryatid 8 years
exactly what i was thinking 7kimba7. it's impossible to do a true causational study to prove this, so this is all just correlated, which leaves a lot of room for confounds. oh, science.
caryatid caryatid 8 years
exactly what i was thinking 7kimba7.it's impossible to do a true causational study to prove this, so this is all just correlated, which leaves a lot of room for confounds. oh, science.
7kimba7 7kimba7 8 years
bear with me here... one might say that women who are on the pill are more likely to have sex, since many take it as contraception and not for health reasons. So isn't it possible that your increased risk for cervical cancer could be from your increased chances of being sexually active and not from the pill itself? (just think about HPV and it's link to cervical cancer). of course I'm not a doctor, but I don't like taking these studies without a grain of salt.
7kimba7 7kimba7 8 years
bear with me here... one might say that women who are on the pill are more likely to have sex, since many take it as contraception and not for health reasons. So isn't it possible that your increased risk for cervical cancer could be from your increased chances of being sexually active and not from the pill itself? (just think about HPV and it's link to cervical cancer).of course I'm not a doctor, but I don't like taking these studies without a grain of salt.
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