Birth control pill increases risks of cervical and breast cancer

Scientists are now saying that women who take the birth control pill could be increasing their risk of cervical and breast cancer.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, part of the World Health Organization, in a review of current research, has concluded that oral contraceptives protected against some types of cancer but could possibly trigger others.

The IARC says that previously, liver cancer was indicated as a risk for women who take the pill, but the latest research shows cervical and breast cancer are also possible risks.

The IARC does say that the pill however can protect against endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer, and calls for more research to determine whether the total net benefits caused by the protective and carcinogenic effects were positive or negative.

The agency says that in order to establish whether the overall net public health outcome may be beneficial, a rigorous analysis is required.

According to the agency, new information about cancer risks, and also possible protective benefits against cancer, as in the case of oral contraceptives, makes it important that each woman who uses hormonal products discuss the risks and benefits with her doctor.

The IARC working group of 21 scientists have also elevated the warning on hormonal menopausal therapy to "carcinogenic" from "possibly carcinogenic".

The scientists concluded, based on an expanded study, that "combined menopausal therapy" increased the risk of breast cancer and in some cases endometrial cancer.

Around 100 million women worldwide, use oral contraceptives, and approximately 20 million women in developed countries have used hormonal menopausal therapy.

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