Weighing all your birth control options? You may want to think twice before you consider the birth control shot, Depo-Provera. The progestin-only injection is quite convenient as it is only given 4 times a year to prevent pregnancy in sexually active women, yet it comes with a significant risk.
Depo-Provera provides protection against pregnancy for up to 14 weeks, but the shot must be received once every 12 weeks to remain fully protected. Recent figures from the Guttmacher Institute indicated that Depo-Provera is used by about 1.2 million U.S. women, or 3.2 percent of those who practice contraception.
According to a new study published in the journal Cancer Research, the injections of medroxyprogesterone acetate when used for a year or longer, causes a 2.2-fold greater risk of invasive breast cancer.
The study was done at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and covered 919 women who had never been diagnosed with breast cancer, and 1028 young women who had developed breast cancer. In women who stopped having Depo-Provera injections, their risk for breast cancer dropped to the average lifetime risk. The scientists did not ultimately prove a cause-and-effect relationship between the Depo-Provera and the development of breast cancer, but they did notice an association between the two.
Other options used to prevent conception, such as birth control pills, condoms, and spermacides, may be less risky for women who are already at above-average risk for breast cancer. Studies like this make it clear that it is important to know your personal health history and risk for cancer, so you can make wise choices and tailor your lifestyle to guard your health.