Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Breast Cancer Follow-up.

Did anyone else see the episode of George Lopez where his son thought his daughter's BCP's were mints and ate the whole package? And now we have Femcon--the mint-flavored chewable birth control pills.


Moving right along, we have another reason to read the full prescribing information for your medications. The following are quotations from the Femcon Fe patient information regarding risks and side effects, many of which I have blogged about before (emphasis mine):

Most side effects of the pill are not serious. The most common are nausea, vomiting, bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods, weight gain, breast tenderness, and difficulty wearing contact lenses.

... you should know that the following medical conditions have been associated with or made worse by the pill:

1. Blood clots in the legs (thrombophlebitis), lungs (pulmonary embolism), stoppage or rupture of a blood vessel in the brain (stroke), blockage of blood vessels in the heart (heart attack or angina pectoris), or other organs of the body. As mentioned above, smoking increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes and subsequent serious medical consequences. Women with migraine also may be at increased risk of stroke when taking the pill.

2. Liver tumors, which may rupture and cause severe bleeding. A possible but not definite association has been found with the pill and liver cancer...

3. High blood pressure, although blood pressure usually returns to normal when the pill is stopped. The symptoms associated with these serious side effects are discussed in the detailed patient information leaflet given to you with your supply of pills. ...Breast cancer has been diagnosed slightly more often in women who use the pill than in women of the same age who do not use the pill. ...Women who currently have or have had breast cancer should not use hormonal contraceptives because breast cancer is usually a hormone-sensitive tumor. Some studies have found an increase in the incidence of cancer or precancerous lesions of the cervix in women who use the pill.

Interestingly, the Mayo Clinic study I cited before noted that increases in breast cancer diagnosis have been higher in developed countries--where hormonal birth control use is more frequent. This is certainly cause for concern in the public health arena, and should be considered by health care professionals when they decide how frequently hormonal contraceptives should be prescribed. Even more urgency is added when you consider that these synthetic hormones end up in aquatic environments, contaminating the fishier part of our food supply, and putting the general public at risk.

For a more personal look at what it means to find out about this after it is too late, here is a blog post by a long-term contraceptive user who was not told of their carcinogenic properties, and then ended up with breast cancer at the age of 31.

There is always NFP.

No comments: