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  • Writer's pictureWomen's Cancer Research Foundation

Contraceptive Use and the Risk of Ovarian Cancer Among Women With a BRCA1 or BRCA2 Mutation

Updated: Jan 12


Women with a BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation (genes that make cells more likely to divide and change rapidly, leading to cancer) have a higher lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Higher lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer

Oral contraceptives (birth control pills) reduce the incidence of ovarian cancer in this population, but the impact of other types of contraception (e.g., intrauterine devices, implants, injections) is unknown. In a 2022 gynecologic oncology study, researchers evaluated the relationship between type of contraception and risk of ovarian cancer among women with a BRCA mutation. 1733 women were matched according to year of birth, date of study entry, country of residence, BRCA mutation type (BRCA 1 or BRCA 2) and history of breast cancer.

Detailed information on hormonal, reproductive and lifestyle exposures were collected via a questionnaire. Every use of any contraceptive was significantly associated with a reduced risk of ovarian cancer (P < 0.0001), which was driven by significant inverse (negative) associations with oral contraceptives (P< 0.0001), and contraceptive implants (P = 0.008). No significant associations were observed between patterns of intrauterine device use and a risk of ovarian cancer.

Every use of any contraceptive was significantly associated with a reduced risk of ovarian cancer.

These findings support a protective effect of oral contraceptives and implants on risk of ovarian cancer among women with BRCA mutations. However, the contributory protective effect from injections remains indeterminate.

More Ovarian Cancer Information:

About Women’s Cancer Research Foundation

The Women’s Cancer Research Foundation (WCRF) is one of the most active research organizations in the nation. We are dedicated to studying and evaluating novel treatments for women afflicted with breast, ovarian, endometrial, and cervical cancers. The WCRF persistently endeavors to make a difference in women’s lives by offering them hope, strength, and progress.

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