Taking the pill could be riskier than we thought

Researchers set out to see how hormonal levels in women are affected [Photo: Pexels]

If you’re on the pill at the moment you’re most likely aware it comes with side effects.

In fact, the term ‘side effects’ can feel like an understatement for what the combined pill can do to you; weight gain, nausea, depression – you name it.

Not to mention the fact it has links to breast cancer.

Research is ongoing into the link between breast cancer and the pill [Photo: Pexels]

And now a recent study has revealed that it could be riskier than previously thought, as four out of seven commonly-prescribed pills were revealed to more than quadruple progestin (synthetic progesterone) levels in women.

One kind of pill also drove up exposure to ethinyl estradiol by 40%, a synthetic oestrogen linked to breast cancer.

The research team at University of Michigan wanted to analyse how the contraceptive pill affects hormone levels in women compared to those who don’t take the pill.

Especially hormones related to breast cancer risk.

Clinic doctor
The study’s author says the risks must be clarified [Photo: Pexels]

While progesterone and oestrogen are both produced by the ovaries at varying levels throughout the menstrual cycle, the pill replaces these with synthetic versions of the same hormone.

To get the results, researchers analysed data from 12 previous studies that measured levels of oestrogen and progesterone during the menstrual cycle in women who weren’t taking the pill.

They then compared the hormone levels of these women to those of a woman taking the pill for 28 days (based on what was on each contraception’s package inserts).

‘The pharmaceutical industry shouldn’t rest on its laurels’ [Photo: Pexels]

And while the leader of the study Beverly Strassmann, a human evolutionary biologist, said that we shouldn’t be put off taking the pill by these findings just yet, it should offer as inspiration to reconsider how the pill is designed so that breast cancer risk is minimised.

“Not enough has changed over the generations of these drugs, and given how many people take hormonal birth control worldwide – millions – the pharmaceutical industry shouldn’t rest on its laurels,” Strassmann told Michigan News.

“It is critically important to know whether hormonal contraception further exacerbates this risk,” she added.

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