birth control pill and cancer

The Pill Dilemma

The pill is one of the most popular methods of birth control available on the market. But did you know that some studies suggest the pill may increase your risk of cancer? Many factors come into play when understanding cancer risk factors. This article will explore risk factors, types of cancer that may increase in risk and treatment options like Nextstellis, a prescription combination oral birth control pill used to prevent pregnancy.

Carcinogenic Drinks That May Affect Your Cancer Risk


Research has shown that the risk of cancer–specifically in the head and neck, esophagus, liver, colon and breast tissue–increases with alcohol consumption. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a maximum of one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

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Energy Drinks

Energy drinks, soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are believed to have a link to an increased risk of cancer. People who drink SSBs are associated with an increased risk of obesity-related cancers, as well as an increased risk for kidney, colon and pancreatic cancer.

Contraceptive Pills May Increase Your Risk of Cancer

Some studies show that contraceptive pills might increase your risk of cancer. For example, Nextstellis is a birth control pill that uses two hormones to prevent pregnancy. It combines a type of progestin called drospirenone and an estrogen called E4 (estetrol). Because birth control pills contain synthetic versions of these female hormones, they could potentially also increase cancer risk.

What Kind of Cancer is Involved?

The most common types of cancers that may increase in risk upon taking the pill are ones that are sensitive to female hormones. As a result, some studies show that naturally occurring estrogen and progesterone can stimulate the development and growth of some cancers.

The two most common cancer risks are breast and cervical cancer, both of which are sensitive to female hormones. Taking the pill slightly increases the risk of breast cancer and cervical cancer as compared to people who do not take it. However, a person’s risk is no longer increased after ten years of taking the pill.

In addition, studies suggest that taking birth control pills has also been shown to increase the frequency of liver tumors. However, the majority of these tumors were benign and not cancerous.

It is important to note that there are also a few types of cancers whose risk decreases upon taking the pill, such as ovarian and endometrial (womb) cancer. Experts believe this is because those who take the pill ovulate less frequently than those who don’t take the pill. The more times you ovulate over your lifetime, the more hormones you’re exposed to. Furthermore, taking the contraceptive pill for at least four years may cut your endometrial cancer risk in half.

You Can Opt for Non-Hormonal Birth Control

There are many different kinds of birth control on the market that are non-hormonal and therefore not sensitive to female hormones. Opting for non-hormonal birth control, such as a copper intrauterine device (IUD), diaphragm, vaginal ring and condoms. This means your birth control would not increase your risk of hormone-sensitive cancers, such as breast and cervical cancer.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

If you’re feeling concerned about your cancer risk factors, remember that there are five major signs and symptoms to look for:

Unexplained Weight Loss

Losing a few pounds here and there is most likely normal. However, if you feel you’ve lost a significant amount of weight in a short period for no particular reason, it might be time to discuss it with your doctor. While it could be nothing serious, in some rare cases it could be one of the first signs of cancer.


There’s tired–and then there’s fatigue. One of the first major signs of cancer is extreme fatigue. That’s because cancer uses your body’s nutrients to grow and advance, so those nutrients are no longer replenishing your body. This can leave you feeling exceptionally tired–a sign that you should talk to your doctor.


A fever is usually your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t quite right. While fevers are common in colds and flu, there might be something more nefarious at play if your fever occurs mostly at night, you have no other signs of infection and you have night sweats. This could be an early sign of cancer.


Having body pains here and there is completely normal. However, if you’re experiencing intense pain that won’t seem to go away and you don’t know where it came from, it could be time to talk to your doctor. Pain throughout the body can be an early sign of cancer.

Skin Changes

If you happen to notice a yellowing of your eyes or fingertips, this could be a sign of a possible infection or cancer. Talk to your doctor as soon as you can if you notice any signs of jaundice.

We recommend making an appointment with your primary care physician and/or gynecologist to discuss your birth control options, cancer risk factors, dietary plans and more.