Study confirms higher breast cancer risk with hormone-based contraception

UNTV News   •   December 8, 2017   •   4468

FILE PHOTO: A woman undergoes a mammograms, a special type of X-ray of the breasts, which is used to detect tumors as part of a regular cancer prevention medical check-up at a clinic in Nice. REUTERS

(Reuters Health) – Women who currently use or recently used hormone-based contraception face a 20 percent higher risk of breast cancer, although the overall risk for most women is relatively low, a new study of 1.8 million women in Denmark has concluded.

Older contraceptives were known to carry a higher risk of breast cancer, but doctors had hoped that the newer lower-estrogen formulations might pose a lower risk.

The new findings, reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, show that they do not, and the longer the products were used, the greater the danger.

The researchers calculated that hormone contraception produced one extra case of breast cancer for every 7,690 women each year. That’s a lot of cancers, given that 140 million use hormonal contraception worldwide – or about 13 percent of women ages 15 to 49.

Breast cancer strikes about 255,000 U.S. women each year and kills about 41,000, according to the American Cancer Society.

The study shows that “the search for an oral contraceptive that does not elevate the risk of breast cancer needs to continue,” said Dr. David Hunter of the University of Oxford in a Journal editorial.

Beyond the fact that they provide an effective means of contraception and may benefit women with menstrual cramping or abnormal menstrual bleeding, “the use of oral contraceptives is associated with substantial reductions in the risks of ovarian, endometrial, and colorectal cancers later in life. Indeed, some calculations have suggested that the net effect of the use of oral contraceptives for 5 years or longer is a slight reduction in the total risk of cancer,” Hunter said.

But as women get into their 40s, non-hormonal alternatives such as IUDs might be better, he said. Most cases of breast cancer were seen in women using oral contraceptives in their 40s.

“I don’t think anyone’s going to say stop taking oral contraceptives. That’s not necessary and not supported by the data,” said Dr. Roshni Rao, chief of breast surgery at New York – Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, who was not involved with the study. “But it does show an increased risk, so for people who don’t have a great reason for taking oral contraceptives, or are amenable to alternatives, perhaps they should think about it.”

Such alternatives include a copper IUD, condoms or, if women are done having children, tubal ligation.

The new study looked at all women in Denmark ages 15 to 49 who had not had cancer, clots in their veins, or treatment for infertility. The women were followed for nearly 11 years.

The 20 percent increase in breast cancer risk varied by age and how long the women used hormone-based contraceptives, including pills, contraceptive patches, vaginal rings, progestin-only implants, and injections.

The risk was 9 percent higher with less than one year of use and 38 percent higher with more than 10 years of use.

“Another thing that has not been clear before is that after discontinuation, if you have used this product for more than 5 years, the risk seems to be increased, even after 5 years of discontinuation of the drugs,” chief author Dr. Lina Morch, a senior researcher at Copenhagen University Hospital told Reuters Health by phone.

On the other hand, among women who used hormonal contraceptives for short periods, the excess risk of breast cancer disappeared rapidly after use was stopped, the researchers said.

IUDs infused with hormones also appear to pose a risk, Morch said, so “so there’s a lot of things to take into account when deciding what type of contraception to use. Contraception itself is a benefit, of course, but this study indicates it might be worth considering an alternative to hormone contraception, like the copper intrauterine device or barrier methods like condoms.”

“If you compare this to other risks, such as obesity and being overweight, there’s more of a risk with obesity than if you take a few years of oral contraceptives,” Rao told Reuters Health by phone.

“There’s no need to panic based on these results,” said Morch, “We don’t want women dropping their contraception without having something different to go to. And there are alternatives.”

SOURCE: The New England Journal of Medicine, online December 6, 2017.

PH issues import ban on poultry products from Denmark, Sweden, France

Marje Pelayo   •   March 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is temporarily banning poultry imports from four countries due to reported cases of the H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus.

In separate memorandum orders, the DA issued a temporary ban on the importation of domestic and wild birds and their products including poultry meat, day old chicks, eggs and semen originating from Denmark, Sweden, and France.

Also, a moratorium was imposed on any application of these three countries as an accredited importer of such products.

Likewise, the DA ordered a stoppage and confiscation of all shipments of the above stated commodities into the country by all DA Veterinary Quarantine officers or inspectors at all major ports.

The memorandum was signed by Agriculture Secretary William Dar and took effect on March 23.

Memorandum Orders

Several areas in Denmark under lockdown over mink coronavirus mutation

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 6, 2020

Several areas in north Jutland in Denmark were placed under lockdown after a coronavirus mutation was discovered in minks.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen warned that the mutation could threaten the development of a potential vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The Danish government ordered the of culling 17 million minks due to the virus.

Frederiksen announced that public transport will also be suspended from entering or leaving north Jutland until December 3. Schools, and other establishments such as bars, museums, restaurants will also be temporarily shut down.

Residents in the area are advised to work from home and public gatherings will be limited.

Denmark is known to be one of the largest producers of mink fur with China and Hong Kong as its primary export markets.

Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in mink farms in the Netherlands and Spain were also reported. AAC

QC rolls out breast, cervical cancer screening caravan

Robie de Guzman   •   March 8, 2019

Breast Cancer remains as the most common and leading cause of death among women in the Philippines.

The Philippine Society of Medical Oncology reported in 2018 that the country topped the list of Asian countries with high incidence of breast cancer.

The report also said that three out of 100 Filipino women are expected to develop breast cancer before age 75 and one out of 100 will die before reaching 75.

Globally, there are around 2.1 million cases of breast cancer reported each year with 626,000 deaths, based on the 2018 report released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The agency added that there were a total of 18.1 million new cases of cancer reported and 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Breast cancer also accounts for 15 percent of global cancer deaths.

The IARC-WHO report also found that there are four cancer cases diagnosed in women worldwide; breast cancer is the most common followed by lung cancer with 13.8 percent, colorectal cancer with 9.5 percent while cervical cancer ranks fourth with an incidence rate of 6.6 percent and mortality rate of 7.5 percent.

In the Philippines, cervical cancer is the second leading killer among women with an estimated 7,277 new cases and over 3,800 deaths to occur each year, according to data from the Department of Health (DOH).

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer include swelling of all or part of a breast, skin irritation, breast or nipple pain, nipple retraction, redness or thickening of the nipple and nipple discharge other than breast milk.

Cervical cancer, meanwhile, has these signs and symptoms that should not be ignored, including blood spots or light bleeding between or following periods, heavier than usual menstrual bleeding, increased vaginal discharge and pain during sexual intercourse.

The IARC-WHO believes that prevention plays a key role in fighting cancer.

In a bid to promote early detection of breast and cervical cancer, the Quezon City government has rolled out a free breast and cervical cancer screening caravan.

“I encourage women to undergo these kind of screening so that we can detect early the signs of breast and cervical cancer. Early detection of those irregularities is important because that dictates if the cancer is still curable or not,” QC Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte said.

The caravan will go to different local communities in the city this month to offer free breast and cervical cancer screening to women.

The caravan was launched through the Office of Vice Mayor Belmonte in partnership with the Philippine Cancer Society in time for the celebration of International Women’s Month this March.

“Take advantage of this program by our city, and have yourselves checked and examined. We assure that if you show symptoms or if you have these illnesses, we will take care of you until you totally recover,” Belmonte added. – Robie de Guzman


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