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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October National Breast Cancer Awareness Month - Link Between Oral Steroid Birth Control and Breast Cancer

October National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

We've Come A Long Way Baby....or have we?

 Since 1979 the incidence
of  Invasive Breast Cancer in women
in the US has increased 119%

When they were first testing for The Pill they were trying to find a female contraceptive pill and a male contraceptive pill – in the first study group of males they found that there was a slight shrinkage in the testicle of one male so they stopped all testing of the male contraceptive pill.  You might notice that there is no such thing.  In the first study group of female’s three females died and they just readjusted the dosage.  Professor Janet Smith 

This October just about everywhere you look, store fronts, sports games, business meetings or school rallies, you will find pink!  These are wonderful ventures, but if they want to truly "make a difference" this year, the connection between breast cancer and oral steroid birth control should be brought out in the open.

Until this information is readily available, each year when October rolls around I will update this post with links to the the newest information and research I can find.

How Does the Birth Control Pill Work?

Oral Steroid Birth Control and Breast Cancer 

As of this year, 2014 (and since the year 2011), the American Cancer Society states on their web site “studies have found that women using oral contraceptives have a slightly greater risk of breast cancer than women who have never used them."  Regarding combined hormone therapy use for post-menopausal women they state, "use of combined post-menopausal hormone therapy increases the risk of getting breast cancer.  It may also increase the chances of dying from breast cancer."  

These statements beg the question, what is the difference between oral contraceptive birth control and post-menopausal hormone therapy? 


 Early Studies 

In his extremely fact filled and informative book, Breast Cancer, Its Link to Abortion and the Birth Control Pill, Dr. Kahlenborn, using the 1989 study by Anderson et al., described how the Birth Control Pill might lead to cancer in humans.  It was "found that nulliparous women (women who have never given birth) who took the Birth Control Pill had a significantly higher rate of breast cell division than nulliparous women who did not take them...This was especially significant because it is  known that, in general, cells which have an increased rate of cell division are more likely to become cancerous." (pg. 132)  

In 1981, in a study by Pike et al., Dr. Kahlenborn noted that women who took the Birth Control Pill for "4 or more years prior to their first full-term pregnancy experienced a 125% increased risk in developing breast cancer, whereas women who took them for 8 or more years prior to their first full-term pregnancy had a 250% increased risk. This startled the research world and led to additional studies, including a very large American study called the CASH (Cancer And Steroid Hormone Study) trial in the early 1980's.  The researchers originally reported in 1983 that : Oral contraceptive use before a woman's first pregnancy did not increase her risk of breast cancer significantly more than other methods of delaying first pregnancy.  As time progressed, however, and further cases were included in the study group, the CASH study showed some very disturbing results.  By 1993 it showed that women under the age of 44 had a 40% increased risk in breast cancer, which was statistically significant in the 35 to 44 year-old range." (pg. 133 - 134) The entire book is available free as a download at One More Soul. 

Steroids Bad for Him, OK for Her 

In 1999, after co-founding the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, Dr. Angela Lanfranchi made the following bold statement which should have been the headline on the 6 o'clock news.  "The dangerous performance enhancing steroids taken by athletes are male steroid hormonal drugs that build muscle. One of their risks is liver cancer. Similarly, female steroid hormonal drugs build breast tissue. They not only increase the risk of liver cancer but breast and cervical cancers as well. These powerful steroid drugs are taken by millions of teenage girls and women as the Birth Control Pill. If it is not ok for him to take steroids, why is it ok for her?" Instead it was ignored by the press.  Dr. Lanfranchi and Joel Brind, Ph.D. co-authored a comprehensive paper on Breast Cancer: Risks and Prevention which can be read online

Major Clinical Trial Stopped 

On July 9, 2002 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published a news release stating that The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the NIH had stopped a major clinical trial and major component of the Women's Health Initiative.  

This trial on the risks and benefits of combined estrogen and progestin in healthy menopausal women found a serious risk, enough to stop the trial three years early. In this trial those women who received active hormones (.625mg conjugated equine estrogens and 2.5mg medroxyprogesterone acetate) had a 26% increased risk of developing invasive breast cancer, and an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease,  stroke and pulmonary embolism compared to those taking a placebo. 

Thankfully, this hit the 6 o'clock news and television talk shows.  

In February 2009,  the New England Journal of Medicine reported that, "Following the release of the findings from the Women's Health Initiative Estrogen Plus Progestin Hormone Trial (E + P), use of hormone therapy in the United States fell sharply.  During that time, rates of breast cancer also went down, suggesting a relationship between stopping hormone therapy and the decrease in breast cancer...Findings from this new analysis confirmed that the risk of breast cancer associated with estrogen plus progestin use goes down significantly once these hormones are stopped.  In addition, they found that the increase in breast cancer risk seen with longer use of estrogen plus progestin is even higher than previously estimated.  A woman continuing E + P hormone therapy after about 5 years doubles her annual risk of breast cancer."

What did not make the 6 o'clock news? 

The results of the 2002 clinical trial again begs the question, what is the difference between oral contraceptive birth control and post-menopausal hormone therapy? 

The conjugated estrogens of hormone replacement therapy  and the ethinyl estradiol of the Birth Control Pill differ widely in their oral potency. A dose of .625mg of conjugated estrogen is generally considered equivalent to 5 to 10 mcgm of ethinyl estradiol. (source)

Birth Control Pills contain between 20 and 50 mcgm of ethinyl estradiol so the Birth Control Pill containing the lowest level of ethinyl estradiol estrogen is 2 to 4 times more potent than the conjugated estrogen contained in the menopausal hormonal replacement therapy.

Remember the 2002 trial was stopped early because the levels of estrogen showed a 26% increased risk of developing invasive breast cancer, among other things.

Biologically and pharmacologically it is plausible to expect that the Birth Control Pill would have at least the same rate of breast cancer in its users as hormone replacement therapy users do.  In fact studies in 2003 (Polycarp Research Institute) and 2006 (Mayo Clinic) have found this to be the case.   Why didn't the 6 o'clock news make the connection to oral birth control? Sadly, it didn't meet the mainstream media's agenda.  

If you want to know what your birth control estrogen level is check your package insert or use this site.     

More Studies 

In 2003, the Polycarp Research Institute, a non-profit organization, published a paper which compiled the results of 21 studies on the link between breast cancer and the Birth Control Pill on women prior to their first full-term birth.  

18 out of these 21 studies (85%), showed an increased risk of developing breast cancer in women who took oral contraceptives prior to their first full-term birth.  Of those 18, 10 studies (55%) showed an increased risk of developing breast cancer at 50% or greater, and  5 studies (27%) showed the increase at greater than 100%.  

Group 1 Carcinogen 

In June 2005, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified combined estrogen-progestogen oral contraceptives and combined estrogen-progestogen hormonal menopausal therapy as a Group 1 carcinogen. (World Health Organization, Carcinogenicity of Combined Hormonal Contraceptives and Combined Menopausal Treatment, September 2005)

By the way, this didn't make the 6 o’clock news either. :(

Mayo Clinic Study 

In 2006 the Mayo Clinic conducted a meta-analysis that concluded that there was a 19% increased risk for premenopausal breast cancer in women in general who use the Birth Control Pill, but in women who use the pill for four or more years before their first full- term pregnancy this risk increases to 50%. Something tells me that even 19% is a bit larger than the "slightly greater risk" the American Cancer Society refers to here.  

Nope, still not newsworthy. 

The following two part very informative video interview with Dr. Chris Kahlenborn, MD who was a part of this meta-analysis goes into more detail. The details that the news media failed to report.   The details on the study will start in video two around the 3 minute mark.   


Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

In the April 2009 issue of the epidemiology journal, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, Jessica Dolle and her team presented a study that found that the use of oral contraceptive increased the risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer.  This cancer first described in 2007 as a subtype of breast cancer, is more prevalent among younger women and associated with a high mortality rate and inadequate therapeutic options. The findings of this study showed those who began using oral contraception under the age of 18 had a 270% increased risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer.  Those between the ages of 20 to 40 years who used oral contraception less than one year had a 150% increased risk and those of the same age bracket who used oral contraception between 1 to 5 years a 320% increased risk.

Yup, you guessed it, this did not make the 6 o'clock news either.

Unless I am missing something, none of these statistics show oral contraceptives as having just a "slightly greater" risk of breast cancer than women who have never used them. So if it is not ok for him to take steroids, why it ok for her? If combined estrogen and progestin in hormonal menopausal therapy was linked to an increase in breast cancer and the combined steroids contained in oral contraception are more potent than the hormonal menopausal therapy, why isn't this information disseminated to women? It is time to let women make an informed choice!!

The following video by American Life League
 contain more information on this issue.


At the end of the How the Pill Kills video, Dr. Lanfranchi touched on histocompatibility, which was first brought to light in 1995 in a study by Claus Wedekind. Though this is a recent discovery, it warrants investigation.

 In a December 2008 article in Scientific American entitled Birth Control Pill Affects Women's Taste in Men, Melinda Wenner wrote:

"Recent research suggests that the contraceptive pill - which prevents women from ovulating by fooling their body into believing it is pregnant - could affect which types of men women desire. Going on or off the pill during a relationship, therefore, may tempt a woman away from her man.

It's all about the scent.  Hidden in a man's smell are clues about his major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes, which play an important role in immune system surveillance. Studies suggest that females prefer the scent of males whose MHC genes differ from their own,  a preference that has probably evolved because it helps offspring survive:  couples with different MHC genes are less likely to be related to each other than couples with similar genes are, and their children are born with more varied MHC profiles and thus more robust immune systems."

In the February 2012 issue of Psychology Today, Rebecca Searles added to the histocompatibility argument with 3 Reasons "The Pill" May Be Hurting Your Relationship.1) The Pill could be drawing women toward genetically incompatible mates, 2) The Pill may lower a woman's sex drive and 3) Men may be less attracted to women on the Pill.

The histocompatibility theory is very new but I believe we will be hearing more about this in the future.  

"Often times The Pill
doesn't kill the women dramatically,
 it just ages their vessels." Dr. Lynn Kerr 

Back to the connection between the Birth Control Pill and breast cancer.  It is clear it does exist even if the American Cancer Society refuses to say anything other than there is a "slight chance of an increase" that a women will develop breast cancer if she has taken the Birth Control Pill. 

Yet unfortunately, there is more. This video with Dr. Lynn Kerr discusses the link of the Birth Control Pill and the leading causes of death in women.  
Women deserve to have all the facts. When given the facts, on hormone replacement therapy women stopped taking the treatment by 50%.  Give our young women the facts. Give the men who love them the facts. They deserve the truth.  One More Soul has produced a pamphlet which gives the facts on the connection between Birth Control and Breast Cancer. 

It is my prayer that some day there will be a cure for all cancer.  Till there is a cure and till truth is fully disseminated I will keep updating this post. Blessings and peace, Lynn

* Statistics for cancer are available by year in the January/February issue of A Cancer Journal for Clinicians available free on line

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