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I got Stage 3C Breast Cancer from The Pill

I got Stage 3C Breast Cancer from The Pill

Posted by Passion to Live on Jan 12, 2021 8:37 am

My cancer is estrogen positive. I would like to share my story. Between the ages of 23 to 25 (1984 to 1986) I was prescribed the pill by an internal medicine doctor for excessive facial hair. I was not informed at the time that there is a risk of cancer associated with the pill. After 35 years, I get diagnosed with stage 3C breast cancer, estrogen receptor positive. Only I know the incredibly disciplined life I have led - no street drugs, one cup of alcohol in my entire life and so on. That is all it took to cause my cancer. Why is it not common knowledge that The Pill causes breast cancer? I am told that the medical profession has known this for 50 years. Would like to hear from others who have taken the pill and ended up with estrogen positive cancer.

Re: I got Stage 3C Breast Cancer from The Pill

Posted by Runner Girl on Jan 12, 2021 9:22 am

Hi Passion to Live‍ 

My breast cancer was estrogen driven and I am also HER2+.

Back in the 80's I was given high dose estrogen birth control pills to assist with the awful menstrual pain I had.  

I too made the connection.

Runner Girl
Never stop believing in HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day!

Re: I got Stage 3C Breast Cancer from The Pill

Posted by Lacey_Moderator on Jan 12, 2021 9:37 am

Passion to Live‍ 

Welcome to our community. Thanks for posting. It is common to want to understand what caused your cancer diagnosis. 

Here is some info from www.cancer.ca on this topic: Risk factors for breast cancer - Canadian Cancer Society

"A risk factor is something that increases the risk of developing cancer. It could be a behaviour, substance or condition. Most cancers are the result of many risk factors. But sometimes breast cancer develops in women who don’t have any of the risk factors.

Oral contraceptives

Oral contraceptives that contain both estrogen and progesterone can slightly increase the risk for breast cancer, especially among women who have used oral contraceptives for 10 or more years. The higher risk disappears after the woman stops taking oral contraceptives. However, current and recent (less than 10 years since last use) users have a slightly greater risk compared with women who have never used oral contraceptives".

Click the link to read about other possible risk factors. 

I hope you find this information helpful,

Re: I got Stage 3C Breast Cancer from The Pill

Posted by Buffythevampire on Jan 12, 2021 11:46 am

Passion to Live‍ I had irregular periods and was described birth control. During my Doctor's maternity leave I went to a sub Doctor who was British. From what I can recall from a conversation, he said where he was from Doctor's don't prescribe birth control to women over 35. When I saw him, I was over 35. He sent me to a Gynecologist and I had tests done with him but everything was ok. 

When I had problems with my mammograms/ultrasounds, my Doctor told me to stop taking the birth control pill. I never had my period after that and immediately went into menopause.

Initially I was diagnosed with DCIS following a lumpectomy. Then after a MRI I needed a mastectomy as another larger tumor was found in the same breast, diagnosed with triple positive IDC including HER2+.

When I was answering the questions in the beginning of my treatment when I was seeing the medical Oncologist, there was a question about history and cancer but never a question about birth control.

Re: I got Stage 3C Breast Cancer from The Pill

Posted by Montana on Jan 13, 2021 7:23 am

I took the birth control pill in my 20's and 30's, for about 15 to 18 years in total.  I, too, got breast cancer last year (I'm 68), but I am triple negative, so the estrogen from the birth control pill didn't seem to matter.  I'm I interpreting it right?  The excess estrogen wasn't a factor in my breast cancer?

Re: I got Stage 3C Breast Cancer from The Pill

Posted by Essjay on Jan 13, 2021 7:57 am

Passion to Live‍ I don’t think you can make a straight line connection between the pill and your cancer...correlation is not causation....I know you are looking for reasons and something to get angry at, but no one will ever be able to tell you positively that it was the pill...

As Lacey_Moderator‍ shared, there are many risk factors for breast cancer (any cancer), some of which are controllable and many that are not. Most of us will tick one or two of the controllable risk factors and some of the uncontrollable. I too used the contraceptive pill, but my cancer was triple negative...I was not able to have children and didn’t breast feed (that ticks 3 risk factors)...but I am not going to blame myself for my cancer. It’s just my bad luck. I did have a health questionnaire to complete here in Manitoba and it asked about age at first period (early is a risk factor), pill use (another risk factor), children, breastfeeding, age at menopause (late is a risk factor)....

If you look at the research the increase in risk from contraception and HRT is tiny, and that risk needs to be weighed against the benefits of the treatment. A young woman having heavy periods that keep her out of school or mean she cannot play sport is disabilitating and she can have a far better life using the pill than without. The increased risk is 7%. So a woman between 40 and 50 (the age I was at diagnosis) has a one in 68 chance of getting breast cancer, and a 7% increase makes that closer to one in 63 not numbers that make much difference when we hear them. 

I focus on the things I can control that may reduce my risk of future cancers - I eat healthily, moderate alcohol consumption, manage sleep, manage stress and I exercise daily. So much of the rest is out of my control and I need to stop worrying about it.

best wishes, Essjay
Triple Negative Breast Cancer survivor since July 2018

Re: I got Stage 3C Breast Cancer from The Pill

Posted by Passion to Live on Jan 13, 2021 9:33 am

The nurse of my oncologist said to me a couple of days ago - they have known for 50 years that estrogen causes cancer and yet they keep prescribing it for benefits. Based on my research a small percentage (up to 10%) of breast cancer is caused by the (BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2) genes. About 70-80% of the breast cancers are hormone receptor positive and 10-20% are hormone receptor negative. Two oncologists told me that my cancer is caused by estrogen (I am in the 70-80% group), and as noted I took it for less than 2 years in the 80's. I have been incredibly healthy all my life rarely even taking aspirin until the cancer diagnosis. In my case the medical doctor (35 yrs ago) should have advised waxing, threading or electrolysis for hair removal. The pill did not cause the facial hair to fall off. I was too young (23), trusted a medical doctors words (had she mentioned cancer I am certain I would not have taken The Pill) and ended up suffering a great deal in the past year. BTW only I know the sacrifices I made to stay healthy. My point is this - all it took was estrogen for a relatively short period of time to cause my cancer. I have been exercising, eating vegetables, and so on, and these practices did not prevent the cancer. None of the other breast cancer risks/factors apply to me. It was inevitable that the cells mutated several (35) years later with the estrogen alone. This is the story of my cancer that I wanted to share.

Re: I got Stage 3C Breast Cancer from The Pill

Posted by Mammabear on Jan 13, 2021 10:09 am

Great topic. 
When I was first diagnosed my surgeon told me that the cause was likely environmental (although I was also HER2+). She said she used to only see women in the 60-80 range. Now her average age was 30 (I was old at 50). Yes the pill has estrogen but men don't take the pill and their instances of estrogen pos breast cancer is also on the rise. Plastics used to have a compound that mimicked estrogen - remember BPA? BPA-Free products didn't hit the market until 2010. I was on glass baby bottles but how many of our children (or younger breast cancer patients) had plastic bottles, or bottles with plastic liners. Canada banned BPA in baby products in 2010. Do you store your food in plastic? Do you heat food in the microwave in plastic? When plastics are heated they release more toxins. But some release them even when cold. In 1994 researchers found a lake in Florida with a mostly female population of alligators. They discovered the cause was a pesticide spill that acted like an estrogen overdose. Interesting article in the link below.
Bottom line is there is more to estrogen positive cancer than the pill. There are a lot of other environmental contributors. 


Re: I got Stage 3C Breast Cancer from The Pill

Posted by Essjay on Jan 13, 2021 10:18 am

Passion to Live‍ it’s sad that your oncologist’s nurse has tried to blame you. The risks from the pill only occur if you take it for 10 years or more, so 2 years is not likely to have made a significant difference for your risks. Your cancer is responding to the estrogen in your body as your oncologists have told you, but there’s no estrogen in your body from the pill any more, it’s what your body is producing naturally. 

Bottom line is, you will never know what caused it for sure. But you are a cancer survivor now and need to look forward. I hope we can help you do that xx
Triple Negative Breast Cancer survivor since July 2018

Re: I got Stage 3C Breast Cancer from The Pill

Posted by Passion to Live on Jan 13, 2021 9:35 pm

Essjay - my understanding from the oncologists is that it is from the pill. And the nurse did not blame me. I am also now a researcher along with a strong technical background. I have studied several peer reviewed journal articles and it is clear to me that no matter when a person has taken the pill (and has stopped taking the pill), the risk still exists. All are entitled to their own viewpoints. All I wanted to do was to share my story and I have done that. No anger in me, but I am super grateful that I took the time to educate myself tremendously over the years so that I can now read the journal articles with the technical terms, understand them and ask relevant questions.

Re: I got Stage 3C Breast Cancer from The Pill

Posted by Raven on Jan 14, 2021 10:56 am

Thanks for sharing.
I find this very interesting, and I also am in the medical field and did a lot of research.
My uterine cancer was the result of an imbalance of hormones apparently (too much estrogen) after menopause among other risk factors such as age, weight etc.
I have always been aware of the estrogen link in contraceptives and have avoided them most of my life, I think I was on the pill for one year in my 63 year life. And somehow cancer touched me also. 
Now the hormone doses in contraceptives are so much lower that the risk seems to be minimal, and also in some cases seem protective for some other cancers.
It is all about risk factors and it would be hard for any oncologist to definitely say: it was caused by this and this alone. If only that was the case.
If the cancer is estrogen sensitive, it is a good thing compared to not sensitive. The treatment is more successful apparently.
In my case the surgical removal of my uterus and ovaries is 98% effective. I wish you well and a bright  healthy future.


Re: I got Stage 3C Breast Cancer from The Pill

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jan 16, 2021 11:31 am

I have read this thread with interest, and it has posed some puzzles for me. As a childless woman who has never taken so much as one birth control pill, this topic has the potential to impact me at some point.

If Passion to Live‍’s experience is true, that her cancer was caused from being on the pill for 2 years, how does one explain my 80-year-old aunt who took the pill for at least 10 years and never developed cancer? Or the women who never went near the pill and DID develop the disease?

The following is not intended to cast any blame, but I have to ask the questions: isn’t estrogen like testosterone or insulin in that different bodies produce it at different rates, and that secretion levels can fluctuate over time? If this is true, isn’t it possible  that a change in estrogen secretions can impact a person’s risk level for cancer?

Someone else mentioned environmental causes, too, and, as Mammabear‍ pointed out, there are many things that can POTENTIALLY cause cancer — things that often aren’t tested thoroughly enough before they’re sent to market, including the pill, various plastics, cell phones, wifi systems and any number of things. 

My background is with lung cancer (caregiver for my dad), who was a life-long smoker. People automatically assumed that his heavy smoking caused his cancer. But, his cancer wasn’t a “run-of-the-mill” one; his was a very rare form, diagnosed in less than .4% of all lung cancer cases. So, WAS his cancer caused by smoking, or was it caused by something else, maybe chemicals in the workplace, or the insulation in his house?

It’s common knowledge that the sooner one quits smoking, the more they can reduce their RISK of getting cancer, and someone else posted in this discussion that the less time one spends on the pill, the more their RISK reduces. 

As Essjay‍ points out, we often look for a place to lay blame when we get a cancer diagnosis, but I’ve learned that pin-pointing a single cause is about as achievable as nailing jello to a wall. At one visit, my Dad’s surgeon said his cancer was not caused by smoking, and at another, he clearly said it WAS. I was in the room on both occasions - heard it myself. This brings me to the fallibility of our doctors. One way or another, one day or the other, something this doctor said has to have been wrong. 

When we get two contrary opinions, we tend to go with the one we want to believe. With my Dad, he chose to believe the first answer the surgeon gave him and not the second. He did this another time, too: 40 years ago, when at least two other doctors told him he needed to quit smoking, he chose to believe the word of the one doctor who said, “[Dude], you’ll never quit smoking.” (He stayed with this doctor until the doctor retired, and never took the advice of his new doctor to quit. Indeed, Dad smoked until the day he was carried off in an ambulance for the last time.)

While on the subject of lung cancer, I note that there’s been a lot work done over the last year to address the stigma of lung cancer. Even though smoking causes other cancers, such as bladder and breast, the strong correlation made between smoking and lung cancer has caused lung cancer research to garner less funding than other cancers, and it has adversely affected lung cancer patients (and smokers) at both health care and social levels.

Lung cancer “got blamed”  and lung cancer patients “get shamed” because of smoking and I would hate to see this happen to breast cancer and breast cancer patients because of a single cause like the pill — especially since it is known that any one cancer can be caused by one or a combination of several factors.

As I read through these posts, the words that jumped out at me time after time, were  RISK and POTENTIAL. Almost everything we do causes risk or potential, from washing pesticides off our vegetables to driving a car. Cancer has so many RISK factors, and every case is unique. That makes it very hard to pinpoint a cause and it’s part of the reason  scientists have been so challenged to find a cure. Still, the POTENTIAL to find that cure is there, just as the developments in treatments over the last few decades have given so many lives additional time to achieve their own POTENTIAL.

I hope my “puzzling”  poses a useful addition to this discussion.
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: I got Stage 3C Breast Cancer from The Pill

Posted by ashcon on Jan 17, 2021 9:21 am

Great points Cynthia Mac‍Mac‍ - and Essjay
Especially about the fallibility of our doctors and medical professionals. 
And those two ever-changing and subjective things, RISK and POTENTIAL. 
And sadly, too, about the apparent impact that stigma has had upon lung cancer research. 

They say that in 75% of breast cancer cases, family history is not a factor. I know this to be true in my case based on how "family history" is currently defined. 
Yet, there is so much messaging out there about the link between family history and breast cancer, that so many women who are diagnosed with BC cry "but I don't have any family history!" 

I'm a glass half full person, though, so I still believe that if more of us quit smoking, exercise more, get plenty of rest, eat healthier, reduce/eliminate alcohol, etc. then that cannot be a bad thing, overall, for us, for our families, for the strain on our medical system, or for our wellbeing as a society.
Perhaps it's the least we can do at this time until that magic day rolls around when they DO know all the causation factors of cancer, how to prevent them, and how to cure cancer when it does occur! 
---- "Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced." ----

Re: I got Stage 3C Breast Cancer from The Pill

Posted by elle29 on Jan 17, 2021 2:16 pm

I only was alerted to tha fact of the Pill as I was talking to a young female Radiologist Onco,
logist part of the team including , . What íwho asked .🦅💪⭕️🥰😚🤓🧐😋😎

Re: I got Stage 3C Breast Cancer from The Pill

Posted by Passion to Live on Jan 21, 2021 8:57 pm

Happy to see that the thread I started generated a great deal of interest. Even a bit of estrogen from the pill can lead to cancer decades later (30, 40, 50, 60 years later) based on my research and personal experience. In my case I am estrogen positive. Some HER2 negative cancers are also estrogen positive so yes, the pill can be the cause for those as well. In this article there is a link to the 2017 research article (when you click on the study) if you are inclined to read the details of the research article that studied 10,000 Danish women. They conclude that breast cancer will become a national health crisis if women continue with the oral contraceptive pill (the pill). https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/health/birth-control-breast-cancer-hormones.html
Based on my research thus far I have come to the following conclusion: if women stopped taking hormones (estrogen, progesterone) there would be a 50%-70% reduction in breast cancer. No woman should have to suffer from cancer and we do and there is no reason for it as it is avoidable in the vast majority of cases. Unfortunately many women are not informed of CANCER as a risk when prescribed the pill or HRT for that matter. A good book to read is: Beyond the Pill: A 30-day program to balance your hormones, reclaim your body, and reverse the dangerous side effects of the birth control pill by Jolene Brighten.