By Kay Quinn, Healthbeat Reporter
St. Louis, MO (KSDK) - Hormone replacement therapy quickly fell out of favor when post-menopausal women who took it were found to have a higher risk of breast cancer.
A NewsChannel 5 viewer wants to know if birth control pills do the same thing in women of child bearing age. Here's the answer in this week's 8 Ways to Prevent Cancer segment.
"That's a very controversial topic actually," says Dr. Michael Naughton with the Siteman Cancer Center.
Controversial because conflicting studies have come up with different answers.
"Some studies have shown a small but noticeable increase in breast cancer risk for women on oral contraceptives," says Dr. Naughton. "Other studies have shown no impact on risk. It's something we go back and forth on."
Another variable: the dose of hormones in the pill you're taking.
"We don't know for sure," says Dr. Naughton, "but the suspicion is that the lower doses are going to be safer cause we are exposing women to less estrogen."
One thing most doctors agree on: women who start taking the pill in their teens, or who take them for more than 10 years, likely face an increased risk.
"It does look like when women stop taking oral contraceptive pills, 10 years later the risk goes back to baseline," says Dr. Naughton.