Contemporary Hormonal Contraception and the Risk of Breast Cancer

Background

Little is known about whether contemporary hormonal contraception is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

Methods

We assessed associations between the use of hormonal contraception and the risk of invasive breast cancer in a nationwide prospective cohort study involving all women in Denmark between 15 and 49 years of age who had not had cancer or venous thromboembolism and who had not received treatment for infertility. Nationwide registries provided individually updated information about the use of hormonal contraception, breast-cancer diagnoses, and potential confounders.

Results

Among 1.8 million women who were followed on average for 10.9 years (a total of 19.6 million person-years), 11,517 cases of breast cancer occurred. As compared with women who had never used hormonal contraception, the relative risk of breast cancer among all current and recent users of hormonal contraception was 1.20 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.14 to 1.26). This risk increased from 1.09 (95% CI, 0.96 to 1.23) with less than 1 year of use to 1.38 (95% CI, 1.26 to 1.51) with more than 10 years of use (P=0.002). After discontinuation of hormonal contraception, the risk of breast cancer was still higher among the women who had used hormonal contraceptives for 5 years or more than among women who had not used hormonal contraceptives. Risk estimates associated with current or recent use of various oral combination (estrogen–progestin) contraceptives varied between 1.0 and 1.6. Women who currently or recently used the progestin-only intrauterine system also had a higher risk of breast cancer than women who had never used hormonal contraceptives (relative risk, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.11 to 1.33). The overall absolute increase in breast cancers diagnosed among current and recent users of any hormonal contraceptive was 13 (95% CI, 10 to 16) per 100,000 person-years, or approximately 1 extra breast cancer for every 7690 women using hormonal contraception for 1 year.

Conclusions

The risk of breast cancer was higher among women who currently or recently used contemporary hormonal contraceptives than among women who had never used hormonal contraceptives, and this risk increased with longer durations of use; however, absolute increases in risk were small. (Funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.)

THE STUDY INDICATED THE INCIDENCE OF BREAST CANCER IN THE NON-HORMONE CONTRACEPTIVE POPULATION WAS 55/100,000 WOMEN VS. 68/100,000 IN THE HORMONE CONTRACEPTIVE USING POPULATION.

Magnesium for Menstrual Cramps

Menstrual cramps are a widespread problem that many women face on a monthly basis. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, increasing magnesium is one effective way of treating menstrual cramps, as well as other types of menstrual-related pain -- including headaches and nausea. Contact your doctor about taking magnesium as well as other possible treatments for your condition.

During the menstrual cycle many women experience cramping in the abdomen or a slow dull ache in the lower back. The term for pain during the menstrual cycle is primary dysmenorrhea. Most of the time, pain during menstruation does not signify a larger problem, according to the UMMC. However, sometimes cramps can signify endometriosis, fibroids, an ovarian cyst, pelvic inflammatory disease or another condition.

According to the National Institutes of Health, many Americans fail to get recommended amounts of magnesium in their diets. The UMMC recommends supplementation for menstrual cramps in the form of 360 milligrams, once daily, for three days. If possible, begin one or two days before bleeding starts.

A series of studies reported by the NIH show that adding magnesium decreases cramps and other painful symptoms. One of these double-blind studies looked at 50 women suffering from dysmenorrhea. Of the 25 that received magnesium, 21 reported significant improvement after six months; four reported no improvement.

Magnesium is a versatile mineral, which helps create more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, according to the UMMC. Magnesium promotes good muscle tone and healthy nerve function. It helps the heart remain steady, boosts immunity, keeps bones strong and helps to regulate blood sugar. In addition, the NIH reports that people with adequate magnesium stored in the body may be protecting themselves against disorders such as cardiovascular disease and immune dysfunction. Magnesium is thought to relieve cramping in many different ways, such as by helping relax muscles and increasing the absorption of calcium.

Foods high in magnesium include halibut, mixed nuts, soybeans and yogurt. Dark-green leafy vegetables such as spinach are another good source of magnesium, as are whole grain breads, cereals and brown rice.

According to the NIH, a study that compared four forms of magnesium preparations suggests that magnesium oxide is more difficult for the body to absorb than other preparations. The absorption of magnesium chloride and magnesium lactate was found to be higher than that of magnesium oxide, therefore these types of supplements may be more beneficial.