The bad news: Certain types of hormonal birth control can increase your risk for breast cancer. Progesterone-only contraceptives like the Depo-Provera shot double your risk when used for a year or longer, according to a study published in the April 2012 issue of Cancer Research. The good news: The increased risk dissipates within just a few months after quitting the shot.
The risk may extend to birth control pills too. While research on the subject isn't conclusive, experts say "those with a family history of breast cancer related to mutations in the BRCA genes should use caution before taking birth control pills."
If you're worried about your cancer risk, discuss your concerns with your doctor right away. "Make sure you're on the same page. If they say 'don't worry about that,' he or she may not be the right doctor for you," Dr. Thompson says.
There are also non-hormonal birth control options available like the Paraguard IUD, a T-shaped copper device placed in the opening of your cervix that prevents pregnancy by shedding copper ions which neutralize sperm. In fact, new guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggest that IUDs and implants should be viewed as "first-line recommendations" for all women seeking to prevent pregnancy. Learn more about the latest birth control research here.