What is the increased risk of breast cancer in women with a history of oral contraceptive use?

Updated: Dec 26, 2019
  • Author: Graham A Colditz, MD, DrPH; Chief Editor: Chandandeep Nagi, MD  more...
  • Print


Results of more than 50 studies have provided considerable reassurance that there is little, if any, increase in risk with past oral contraceptive use in general, even among women who have used oral contraceptives for 10 or more years. In the pooled analysis, long-term use among young women was not independently associated with an increase in breast cancer risk, but current users and recent users (< 10 years since last use) had a modest elevation in risk compared to never users.

Current and recent users, the group that appears to have a modest increase in risk, are generally young (< 45 years) and thus have a low absolute risk for breast cancer. Hence, a modest increase in their risk will result in few additional cases of breast cancer. Nevertheless, this increased risk among current and recent users should be considered and balanced against benefits, including reduced ovarian cancer risk, in the overall decision of whether to use oral contraceptives. Recent findings suggest that long-term use of triphasic preparations containing levonorgestrel may account for most of this excess risk.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!