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It does not matter if they are combined or progestagen-only: all kinds of hormonal contraceptives increase breast cancer risk. Tests enabling individual risk evaluation can help you protect your health and take the most suitable decision – from the adoption of an adequate lifestyle to screening programs aimed at secondary cancer prevention.

The increased breast cancer risk associated with current or recent hormonal contraceptives (both combined or progestagen-only) is suggested by a study published in PLoS Medicine by a team of researchers from the Oxford University (UK). The estimated increase is between 20 and 30%.

The tests enabling breast cancer risk evaluation are included into the HELIXAFE program, Bioscience Institute’s solution to detect the individual predisposition to genome instability (the principal cancer driver), to evaluate other cancer drivers (chronic inflammation, gut dysbiosis, and immune imbalance), and to detect potential gene variants (mutations) associated with breast cancer development.

Hormonal contraceptives and cancer

There is a double, somewhat contradictory, link between hormonal contraceptives and cancer. In fact, combined contraceptives (which contain two kinds of hormones: synthetic estrogens and progestagens) are associated with reduced ovary, endometrial and colorectal cancer, and the so-called “minipill” (which contains only progestagens) is associated with reduced endometrial cancer. However, breast and cervical cancer risk is increased during combined contraceptive therapy.

After drug suspension, this last risk gradually decreases to the level observed in women who never utilized combined contraceptives. However, it is often perceived as a good reason to avoid them. Together with other combined pill’s side effects, the fear of developing cancer makes an increasing number of women choose progestagen-only contraceptives.

However, the study published in PLoS Medicine showed that breast cancer risk is similarly increased by both kinds of contraceptive (combined and progestagen-only), and that all kinds of progestagen-only contraceptives (oral, to be injected, implant or intrauterine device) increase breast cancer risk similarly to combined pill.

Instead, risk increase significantly depends on the age at contraceptive utilization. As the paper’s authors explained, «when our findings for oral contraceptives are combined with results from previous studies (…), they suggest that the 15-year absolute excess risk of breast cancer associated with use of oral contraceptives ranges from 8 per 100,000 users (an increase in incidence from 0.084% to 0.093%) for use from age 16 to 20 to about 265 per 100,000 users (from 2.0% to 2.2%) for use from age 35 to 39».

Is it better to avoid hormonal contraceptives?

The researchers highlight that the increased risk should be evaluated together with the well-known benefits of contraceptive use in reproductive ages. «Instead of deciding to totally avoid hormonal contraceptive you can go in-depth into the analysis of your own breast cancer risk», Giuseppe Mucci, Bioscience Institute CEO, explains. «That means undergoing tests which enable the interception of the cancer driver conditions: genome instability, chronic inflammation, gut dysbiosis, and immune imbalance».

HELIXAFE is the program allowing for evaluating and intercepting these cancer drivers well before cancer development. That means enabling decisions in terms of prevention, including the possible interruption of hormonal contraceptives.

For more information on HELIXAFE, please visit our website at, or feel free to contact us at Our biologists will answer your questions with no commitment on your part.


  • Fitzpatrick D et al. Combined and progestagen-only hormonal contraceptives and breast cancer risk: A UK nested case-control study and meta-analysis. . PLoS Med. 2023 Mar 21;20(3):e1004188. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1004188
  • Mayo Clinic. Choosing a birth control pill. Last viewed March 28th, 2023
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