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cocoeyes 09-22-2004 12:50 PM

The birth control and Cervical dysplasia or cancer
 
I found this off of a web site http://www.ivillagehealth.com/library/nwh/content/0%2C4482%2C215912_269246%2C00.html?arrivalSA=1&cobrandRef=0&arrival_freqCap=1&pba=adid=10808442

Cancer and birth control pills
Many fear that using the pill will cause cancer. The truth is that the pill definitely helps prevent uterine and ovarian cancer. Birth control pill use causes several changes in the body’s normal monthly cycle. These changes account for the pill’s protective effects against uterine and ovarian cancer, and possibly colorectal cancer. The levels of estrogen and/or progestin provided by the pill interferes with the body’s hormonal signaling process; lower levels of other chemicals (or none at all) are released by the body because there has been no signal for them to become active, and this results in less activity for the endometrium (the uterine lining) and ovaries. Ultimately, cell division in the endometrium and ovaries is reduced and cancer cells are prevented from occurring.

The pill’s possible cause and effect relationship with other types of cancer, specifically cervical cancer, breast cancer and liver cancer, are not so easy to understand. Even with the most recent scientific findings, researchers still characterize the possible link between cancer and the pill as “unresolved."

According to the National Cancer Institute, studies examining the use of BCPs as a risk factor for breast cancer have produced inconsistent results. Most studies have not found an overall increased risk for breast cancer associated with oral contraceptive use. For example, in 2002, results from the Women’s Contraceptive and Reproductive Experience (Women’s CARE) study indicated that present or past use among both Caucasian and African-American women ages 36 to 64 did not significantly increase the risk of breast cancer.

Protective effects of birth control pill use ( s)
Uterine cancer: Findings from the Cancer and Steroid Hormone Study (CASH), which was conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other studies show that combination OC use can protect against the development of endometrial cancer. It is believed that OCs provide the progestins needed to oppose estrogen's stimulating effects on the uterine lining. The level of risk reduction is greater in women who have used OCs for a longer time, and, long after a woman discontinues OC use, she will be protected from endometrial cancer.

Ovarian cancer: Protection occurs long after a woman stops taking the pill. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) large Cancer and Steroid Hormone (CASH) study found that, even if it had been 15 years since a woman stopped taking the pill, she is still half as likely to get ovarian cancer as a woman who hasn’t use BCPs. Authors of the CASH study estimate that pill use prevents more than 1,700 cases of ovarian cancer in the United States each year. Ovarian cancer protection, however, may be confined only to women who are NOT genetically predisposed to this type of disease (those who carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations), according to a recent study appearing in the July 2001 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Colorectal cancer: The International Journal of Cancer stated in 1999 that colorectal cancer is the fifth most common cancer among women. The largest study conducted so far on this subject found that women who were pill users for at least two years have half the risk for colorectal cancer that non-pill users have.

Birth control pills and possible disease associations
Cervical cancer: There is some evidence that long-term pill use may increase the risk of cancer of the cervix (the narrow, lower portion of the uterus). The results of studies conducted by NCI scientists and other researchers support a relationship between extended use of the pill (five or more years) and a slightly increased risk of cervical cancer, but it is difficult for researchers to determine the exact role that the pill may play in the development of this cancer.

Breast cancer: A woman’s normal production of reproductive hormones can put her at risk for breast cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), hormonal risk factors include conditions that allow high levels of estrogen to persist for long periods of time, such as early age at first menstruation (before age 12), late age at menopause (after age 55), having children after age 30 and not having children at all. Because pill use allows for higher levels of estrogen in the body, it has been scrutinized as a possible cause for breast cancer. The largest analysis to date summed up the findings of 54 studies and covered 53,000 women with breast cancer. The findings of this analysis, published in 1996 by the Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer, are as follows: You will be slightly more likely to be diagnosed with localized breast cancer if you are a current pill user or if you quit using them within the last 10 years. Today’s pills, with much lower doses of estrogen, do not increase risk for breast cancer.

In 2002, results became available from the Women’s Contraceptive and Reproductive Experience (Women’s CARE) study. The study examined the use of BCPs as a risk factor for breast cancer in women ages 35 to 64. Researchers interviewed 4,575 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1994 and 1998, and 4,682 women who did not have breast cancer. Findings indicated that present or past use among both Caucasian and African-American women in this age group did not significantly increase the risk of breast cancer. Factors such as longer periods of use, higher doses of estrogen, beginning pill use before age 20, and use by women with a family history of breast cancer were not associated with an increased risk of the disease. The data also provided evidence that former BCP use does not increase the risk of breast cancer later in life.

The NCI recommends that all women in their 40s or older who are at average risk for breast cancer get screening mammograms every one to two years. Women who are at higher risk of breast cancer should seek expert medical advice about whether to begin screening before age 40 and to determine their mammography schedule in their 40s.

Liver Tumors: According to the NCI, some evidence exists that pill use may increase the risk of certain malignant liver tumors. However, the risk is difficult to evaluate because of different patterns of pill use and because these tumors are rare in American women (about two cases per 100,000 women).


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