Young women who take the oral contraceptive pill are at increased risk of breast cancer, especially if taken before their first child, according to a meta-analysis of existing research.
The US research team analysed data from 21 studies of women who were pre-menopausal or younger than 50 and who had been diagnosed with breast cancer during or after 1980.
Findings show that pre-menopausal, childless women face a 44% increased risk of developing breast cancer before they reach themenopause if they take the oral contraceptives (OC).
The authors say the latest findings confirm previous research that OC useis associated with pre-menopausal breast cancerand conclude that doctors and nurses shouldensure their patients are aware of the risks.
Lead researcher Chris Kahlenborn, at medical director at the Altoona Hospital in Phladephia said:'As I studies the literature I noticed a trend appeared, namely OC use prior to first-term pregnancy seemed to consistently increase the risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer.
'My hope is that physicians will provide detailed information to their patients about hormonal contraceptives.'
Mayo Clinic Proceedings 2006;81:1287-1289