How does the use of progestin only oral contraceptives affect a women's risk of breast cancer?

Updated: Dec 26, 2019
  • Author: Graham A Colditz, MD, DrPH; Chief Editor: Chandandeep Nagi, MD  more...
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These contraceptives include progestin-only pills ("mini-pill"), depot-medroxyprogesterone (DMPA), and implantable levonorgestrel (Norplant). Although the progestin-only pill has been evaluated in a few studies, no increase in breast cancer risk has been observed to date for ever users. In the studies in which duration of use was evaluated, longer-term users were observed to have either a similar or lower risk of breast cancer compared to never users, although an increase in risk similar to that observed for combined oral contraceptives was reported in a prospective study. [40]

DMPA, an injectable contraceptive, has also had limited study in relation to breast cancer risk. In the most extensive study of this relationship, [24] no significant increase in risk was observed with increasing duration of use (RR for more than 3 years of use vs never use = 0.9; 95% CI, 0.6-1.4). Norplant, a long-acting contraceptive that is implanted subdermally, was introduced in the United States in 1990. No epidemiologic data have been published on Norplant's effect, if any, on breast cancer risk.

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