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Injectable contraception doubles risk of breast cancer in young women

Filed April 6th, 2012 Joshua Sophy

Use of an injectable form of birth control drug doubles the risk a young woman will develop breast cancer, according to the results of the first study on the subject.

According to a report at, researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle used more than 1,000 women between the ages of 20 and 44 who had diagnosed cases of breast cancer. Of those women, about 10 percent reported they had taken depo-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) as a form of birth control.

Based on those results, researchers were able to determine that women injected with DMPA, a progestin form of birth control, were twice as likely to develop breast cancer than women who hadn’t been exposed to the contraception. The study was the first large-scale study on the possible association between DMPA and breast cancer, especially among younger populations. Previous studies on the effects of DMPA were conducted on women later in life who had been injected with the drug in the treatment of menopause.

The results of the study are published in an upcoming edition of the journal Cancer Research.

The risk of breast cancer associated with DMPA is highest when women use it as contraception for at least a year and that risk only decreases after it is stopped. Use of DMPA for less than a year was not associated with the increased risk of breast cancer.

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