The Pill and Breast Cancer. Why the Ignorance?



Dr. Chris Kahlenborn, MD:

The Current State of Affairs

Most physicians, family docs and I think OBGYNs, and most researches if you ask them,
“Does the birth control pill increase the risk of breast cancer?” They will go back to a study which was a pooled analysis of all the world studies, done in 1996. It look at 54 studies, 53,000 women, 25 countries and they basically said their conclusion: “Women who are currently using combined oral contraceptives or have used them in the past 10 years are at a slightly increased risk of having breast cancer diagnosed, although the additional cancers tend to be localized to the breast.”

So, what does that mean? That means, if you took the birth control pill from age 15 to 25 your doctor could say to you, “If you stop the birth control pill now you’ll have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer until the age of 35 and then your risk is the same as everyone else.”

So most people think well… there is not much risk for breast cancer when you are young. “It’s not really a high risk.”
But this is really unfair because of several reasons.
One is there are a lot of defects in the study, and without going into too much detail, if you look into bullet number 5, 2/3s of the women in this Oxford pooled analysis were over age 45, so probably half of the women were menopausal. So, you are studying the effect of the birth control pill, sometimes in a women who is 80 years old, and probably has never even heard of the birth control pill, never even took the birth control pill; some of these studies were in the 1980s and ’90s.
Unfortunately this study focuses a lot on older women and they used older studies and then, really didn’t look at the risk of the birth control pill on young women because today most young women take the birth control pill…..

Dr. Chris Kahlenborn, MD asks:

Do you think they(young women) take the birth control pill before pregnancy or after pregnancy? … What would you say? Anybody can answer that…….

Crowd says: Before.

Yeahh, every body is taking it before.
And, when they came out in the 1960s and ’70s women tended to take them for maybe a year or two after they had a couple of children. Where today, they can be on the pill for 5, 10, 15 or 20 years before they even have kids. And the time before you have a pregnancy, before you become pregnant, is the most vulnerable time in the breast. So the study really couldn’t pick up the risk of the birth control pill (in young women)…
So it had a lot of problems. So let’s look at the evidence.

The Evidence

There are two pieces of important news. One is that the World Health Organization classified oral contraceptives as a group 1 Carcinogen. A group 1 carcinogen is the most dangerous type of carcinogens and the World Health Organization is certainly not prolife so they are saying it’s a dangerous hormone.

The second thing is the studies from today. What do the studies show? Well, after many years of research we published what is called a meta-analysis — a grouping of all the studies in the world in 2006, and so a more recent study than the Oxford pooled analysis. And the Mayo Clinic Proceedings is one of the top journals in the world. So in order to get into this type of journal it has to be peer reviewed and this is such a controversial topic that it would not have gotten in unless it wasn’t an accurate study. So we published the study with the grace of God, because it was definitely a miracle to get it in; and here is the title,
“Oral contraceptive use as a Risk Factor for Premenopausal Breast Cancer.”

What did the studies show?
There are two slides; here is one of them and the next will follow. And you can look at those numbers. So you can see that most of those studies are positive. You know, if someone told you these were studies of smoking and lung cancer you probably wouldn’t be shocked. But, if someone says these are the studies relating the birth control pill and breast cancer? Young ladies, I work with a lot of nurses, and they are very surprised when they hear these results.

So here is the second slide. And you can see there are 21 out of 23 studies showing increased risk. And the only two that do not, show a rather small decrease. So if you pooled them all together statistically, you find close to a 44% increased risk. And this was statistically significant at the 99% Confidence Interval which is a higher degree of certainty than that for most papers published.

I once showed this slide to a group of lawyers. A particular lawyer was from the South and after I gave my presentation to this Lawyer, he sat back in his chair, and said, ” D’octor… That’s a lot of bluuue.”

Crowd laughs.

Unfortunately, I don’t know what it will take for women to hear about this, but it may end up a law suit because the media and the medical establishment are not doing their job and nobody has heard of this stuff.

As Steve (Steve Koob, Director of One More Soul ) said this information is in flyer form.

The graph I showed you is in One More Soul’s flyer. We also have a research site called the Polycarp Research Institute. If anybody would like a copy of the Mayo Clinic Paper. It is right up there. The Mayo Clinic puts their papers for public use so there is a link to it.
Our study came out in 2006; there has been a couple of other studies. One of them by a women named Lynn Rosenberg from ( I think she is from Boston); she found a 60 % increased risk in women who took the birth control pill before the age 50. So that kind of goes along with our 44% number.

Current Research

One of the papers we are working on now, I think is going to be pretty significant. It is an estimation of how many women are getting (the pill ( misspoke)) breast cancer due to the birth control pill before the age 50, every year. And the number we are coming up with right now is just probably about 6,000 women. It’s a very conservative estimate, and people say that breast cancer is infrequent in women under 50, but 6,000 women could be prevented from getting breast cancer. And 6,000 out of 50,000; 50,000 women get breast cancer under the age 50. So that is 12% of breast cancer that could be avoided for women under age 50. You know, I don’t know what the problem is, but some people seem to feel that this is not a significant number. Certainly, if your friend, your sister, your cousin, your daughter, your mom is one of those 6,000, there could be nothing more important.

The Bottom Line

So, the bottom line; Oral Contraceptives, especially when used before first term pregnancy, increase the risk of breast cancer, and unfortunately, as of today almost no women, almost no medical professionals, have ever heard of this risk, and you are probably the few in this room who know more than people at the New York Times. I am not kidding about that. The day after the study came out, I received a call from the Mayo clinic and they said that The New York Times (and I think they said NBC) will be calling me the next day, so I became rather nervous, and my wife said you don’t need to be nervous, they will never call you. She is smarter than I am , she was right; they just buried the whole thing; which means they read the study; they knew it was a good study, otherwise they would ‘ve critique it; and they decided to just bury the study. So all the major media have basically found this too controversial an area — an article on one of the few preventable risks of breast cancer. It is pretty sad!

The Pill and Breast Cancer

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