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Are IUDs Upping Your Breast Cancer Risk?


Could certain forms of contraception increase your risk for breast cancer? A new study published in the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology seems to think so.

Researchers followed more than 93,000 premenopausal women from 1994 to 2007 to see if there was a link between increased cancer rates—specifically cancer of the uterine wall—and the use of a levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (which is a fancy term for a hormone-releasing IUD).

All of the women in the study were using the IUD to treat their heavy periods, because levonorgestrel—a hormone that's naturally produced in a woman's body—regulates a woman’s ovulation.

RELATED: What You Know About IUDs May Be All Wrong

While the IUD did not significantly raise the risk of uterine, ovarian, pancreatic, or lung cancers—researchers did see a spike in the number of breast cancers cases, especially for women between the ages of 45 to 49.

So is the increase in levonorgestrel to blame? Not entirely.

“One limitation of our study was that women suffering from heavy menstruation may in fact represent a selected group of women who may have other risk factors for cancer, such as factors related to lifestyle, genetic factors, just to name a few," Tuuli Soini, M.D., the lead author of the study explained to

What’s more, the researchers still believe that the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system is the best way to go for treating menorrhagia (the technical term for those who suffer from heavy periods). Not to mention the levonorgestrel may actually have a protective effect against endometrial cancer.


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