Current or recent use of hormonal contraceptives is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, regardless of the type of contraceptive used, according to research published in PLOS Medicine

Researchers found a similarly increased risk of breast cancer for oral combined contraceptives, oral progestogen-only contraceptives, injectable progestogen, progestogen implants, and progestogen intrauterine devices.

The researchers assessed the relationship between hormonal contraceptives and breast cancer in a cohort of 9498 patients with breast cancer and 18,171 closely matched control individuals. The patients were diagnosed with breast cancer from 1996 to 2017. Overall, 44% of breast cancer patients and 39% of control individuals had a hormonal contraceptive prescription. 

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Patients who had at least 1 hormonal contraceptive prescription had a significantly higher risk of breast cancer (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.25; 95% CI, 1.18-1.33; P <.001). The mean time from the last hormonal contraceptive prescription to breast cancer diagnosis was 3.1 years.

When the researchers looked at specific contraceptives, they found a higher risk of breast cancer among patients who received the following:

  • Oral combined contraceptives (aOR, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.14-1.32; P <.001)
  • Oral progestogen only (aOR, 1.26; 95% CI, 1.16-1.37; P <.001)
  • Injected progestogen (aOR, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.07-1.45; P =.004)
  • Progestogen-releasing intrauterine devices (aOR, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.17-1.49; P <.001). 

The researchers combined the results for progestogen-only contraceptives with results from previous studies and found “a broadly similar increased risk of breast cancer in current and recent users of all 4 types of progestogen-only preparations.”

“These excess risks must be viewed in the context of the well-established benefits of contraceptive use in women’s reproductive years,” the researchers noted.


Fitzpatrick D, Pirie K, Reeves G, Green J, Beral V. Combined and progestagen-only hormonal contraceptives and breast cancer risk: A UK nested case–control study and meta-analysis. PLOS Medicine. Published online March 21, 2023. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1004188.