Hormonal Birth Control Risk Of Breast Cancer. Researchers who have analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of hormonal birth control have concluded that physicians should be discussing these medications in greater detail with their patients.
A recent study has been printed in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study was led by Ojvind Lidegaard, a researcher from the University of Copenhagen. Lidegaard and his fellow researchers discovered that there was a 20 percent greater risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in women who either currently or recently used hormonal birth control. The risk increased with extended use. For example, women who had been taking hormonal birth control for less than 12 months were at an increased risk of 9 percent. For women who had been taking birth control for more than ten years, the risk increased by 38 percent.
Researchers tracked data in a health database in Denmark. In Denmark, there is a legal requirement that all processed prescriptions be recorded into a registry. The prescription drug information was then compared to a cancer database. Researchers looked for relationships between breast cancer and hormonal birth control. The researchers followed all types of hormonal birth control, including vaginal rings, birth control pills, hormone-releasing intrauterine devices, patches, injections, and the “Morning-after Pill.”
According to the study, the greatest risk was associated with levonorgestrel, which is sold as Plan B. Plan B is used as an emergency birth control.
Lidegaard commented that the higher risk of breast cancer associated with extended use of hormonal birth control makes it very likely that there is a link between these substances and cancer. He said, “The fact that we can demonstrate such a linear effect on the length of use makes a causal inference more likely.”
In November, Lidegaard and his colleagues published another study that discovered a correlation between hormonal birth control and a higher risk of suicide and attempted suicide. In the past, studies have connected it to blood clots and breast cancer risk.
In tandem, the studies show that it is time to reevaluate how physicians and consumers think about birth control. Lidegaard says that doctors should be having detailed discussions with patients about the benefits and risks associated with hormonal birth control before they are prescribed. According to Lidegaard, doctors do not always follow up with patients who are on hormonal birth control because it is generally considered safe overall. Lidegaard emphasized that the overall risk of cancer and suicide and suicide attempts is small, but it is enough to necessitate a conversation between women and their doctors. For example, women who have a history of depression or other mood disorders should ensure they understand the risks of birth control and they should be carefully evaluated after they begin taking it. Similarly, this goes for women who may be at an increased risk of breast cancer.
Lidegaard himself practices what he preaches: he analyzes his patients’ reactions to hormonal birth control for a three-month period after they are prescribed. He said, “Women understand that whatever they do carry risk, and hormonal contraceptives are no exception. We should make individual assessments of the risks and benefits. For some women, it will still be a good choice to take these products for some years. For other women, for example, women with a tendency toward depression, we need to think twice about whether we give them a product that can deteriorate their mental status. The same applies to women who have a genetic predisposition to breast cancer with BRCA genes.”
What happens if a drug causes an injury, like cancer?
Pharmaceutical companies must provide quality products to consumers-products that do not injure them. If it is discovered that a pharmaceutical company has released a substance that injures those who consume it, the pharmaceutical company may be liable for damages.
To obtain approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration, pharmaceutical companies must test their drugs in clinical trials and submit proof that they are effective and safe. Or, pharmaceutical companies may submit proof that their drugs are similar enough to drugs currently approved-and therefore the new drug should be approved as well. This is how many generic drugs are approved.
Over-the-counter medications do not require as much testing as prescription medications. With over-the-counter medications, the FDA studies the active ingredients listed in these substances, as well as their labeling.
However, simply because a drug has been approved by the FDA does not mean that it is safe. For example, many drugs are approved for specific uses, and injuries may occur with “off-label” use.
Additionally, some of the studies that pharmaceutical companies submit to obtain approval may not be long-term studies with large sample sizes. The true effects of the drug may not be uncovered until it has already been released to the general population.
If it is discovered that a specific drug causes injuries, a number of individuals and entities may be held accountable. The pharmaceutical company, its sales representatives, physicians, and even pharmacists may all be liable in a lawsuit involving drug injury allegations.
Damages in a Drug Injury Lawsuit
If you are injured by a drug, you may be entitled to a variety of damages, including:
- Medical bills you incurred due to the drug injury, such as emergency room bills, surgical bills, ambulance bills, physical therapy bills, and in-patient hospital treatment costs
- Lost wages, if you were forced to miss time from your job to recover from the injuries the drug caused
- The cost of future medical treatment that may be required to fully recover from your injuries
- The Pain and suffering that you sustained as a result of your injury
- Emotional distress, such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder caused by your drug injury
- Loss of consortium, which is filed by spouses or relatives of the injured individual and seeks damages for the harm caused to the relationship with the victim
Other damages may also be available, depending on the individual circumstances of the claim.
What should I do if I believe a drug caused my injuries?
If you believe that a drug caused your injuries, you should consult with a drug injury attorney as quickly as possible to ensure your legal rights are protected. There are deadlines in place that limit how long an injured claimant has to file a drug injury case. Your Hormonal Birth Control Lawyer will need to review your medical records and possibly consult with medical experts before filing a claim.
You should be prepared to offer a timeline of when you started taking the drug, why you were prescribed the drug when you first noticed side effects from the drug and the subsequent medical treatment that became necessary due to the drug. Such a timeline will help your attorney identify possible legal issues in your case.
If You Believe You Were Injured by a Hormonal Birth Control Medication, Contact Parker Waichman LLP Today
At Parker Waichman LLP, our injury attorneys are experienced in litigation against pharmaceutical companies. We aggressively represent our clients inside and outside of the courtroom to ensure their legal interests are protected. To schedule your free consultation with our Hormonal Birth Control Injury Attorneys, call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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