Rebecca Millette


Contraceptive pill may not make you fat, but could cause stroke, breast cancer

Rebecca Millette

SWEDEN, June 9, 2011 ( – A new study claims to have debunked a popular belief that the combined contraceptive pill causes women to pack on the pounds; at the same time, however, findings are increasingly showing that use of the pill carries even more deadly risks like increased chance of stroke and breast cancer.

Researcher Ingela Lindh from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden recently defended her thesis which involved an extensive survey of women using the pill over the past few decades.

In the study 1,749 women, born in 1962, 1972, and 1982, were asked questions about contraception, pregnancies, height, weight, and smoking habits every five years from age 19 to 44.

“The women who were on the pill and were monitored from their teenage years until the age of 34 didn’t put on any more weight than their peers who had never taken the pill at all,” said Lindh.

Women were found to come off the pill for many reasons “including a fear of side-effects, weight gain and mood swings.”  “These gradually increased over time and were more common in the youngest group,” said Lindh.

“It’s important to let women know that the pill doesn’t affect their weight, as there’s a real fear that they will put on weight, especially among young women, and this can be one of the reasons why they don’t want to go on the pill,” added the researcher.

But according to a large number of recent studies, women considering the birth control pill have a lot more to be concerned about than simply potential weight gain, with hormonal contraceptives being directly linked to fatal blood clots, as well as stroke and cancer and other serious health issues.

In April 2010, a 28-year-old UK woman died suddenly when blood clots forming in her legs spread to her lungs, causing a stroke.  She had been on the pill for 10 years.

Several similar stories have emerged in recent years. In one high profile instance, in March of this year 17-year-old UK resident Charlotte Porter died of a blood clot that was apparently caused by oral contraceptives.

Repeated studies have found a significant increased risk of blood clots and stroke with each year on the pill. A 2009 study published in the British Medical Journal found that the greatest blood clot risk is associated with birth control pills containing desogestrel, cyproterone acetate or drospirenone.

In 2005, Ortho McNeil, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson, the manufacturer of the hormonal birth control patch Ortho Evra, admitted a link between their product and stroke and death by blood clots.

In the United States currently, over 700 lawsuits are pending against Merck Pharmaceuticals, the creator of the NuvaRing hormonal contraceptive device. The lawsuits allege serious injury and death caused by the use of the NuvaRing.

Additionally, experts have increasingly attested to the pill’s breast cancer link.  In a presentation in December 2010, Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, a breast surgical oncologist and co-founder of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, offered a wealth of statistical data from various sources to support a fact that is known by the medical community to be true, yet is rarely acknowledged: use of the pill has been strongly linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Lanfranchi described the pill as a “Molotov cocktail” for breast cancer.

“This stuff is not new, it’s not magic, it’s in the literature,” she said, linking pill use to the 660 percent rise in non-invasive breast cancer since 1973. “Women want to know, and women have a right to know, what researchers have known for over 20 years.”

In 2006 a Mayo Clinic meta-analysis concluded that breast cancer risk rises 50 percent for women taking oral contraceptives four or more years before a full-term pregnancy. Then, in 2009, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that women who begin using the pill before the age of 18 nearly quadruple their risk of triple negative breast cancer.

Even more shocking, Swedish oncologist Hakan Olsson concluded that pill use before the age of 20 increases a young woman’s breast cancer risk by more than 1000 percent.

“It’s like you took this molotov cocktail of a group one carcinogen and threw it into that young girl’s breast,” said Lanfranchi in her presentation last December. “Is this child abuse?”

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