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In 1976, information on oral contraceptive (OC) use as well as numerous risk factors for breast cancer was provided by 121,964 married female registered nurses aged 30 to 55 years. Ninety-two percent of women in the cohort completed follow-up questionnaires, and vital records were systematically searched to ascertain deaths among nonrespondents. After four years of follow-up, 592 incident cases of breast cancer were identified. Compared with never users, the age-adjusted relative risk (RR) of breast cancer, regardless of menopausal status, among all women who had ever used OCs was 1.0. Among premenopausal women compared with those who had never used OCs, the RR of breast cancer was 1.5 for current use of OCs in 1976 and 1.0 for past use. Among postmenopausal women, the RR for past use of OCs was 1.0. These estimates were essentially unaltered after controlling for other known risk factors for breast cancer in multiple logistic regression analysis. Furthermore, there was no modification of these effects by family history of breast cancer, age at first use, timing of the first birth, or other breast cancer risk factors. Data on past use of OCs provide substantial reassuring evidence that there is no large excess risk of breast cancer within a few years of cessation of pill use. The observed moderate elevation of breast cancer risk with current use was of borderline statistical significance. However, the observation was based on 29 cases and may reflect the effect of sampling variability, as most other studies have not observed a relationship between current use of OCs and breast cancer in women of this age.


Journal article



Publication Date





58 - 61


Adult, Breast Neoplasms, Contraceptives, Oral, Female, Humans, Menopause, Middle Aged, Prospective Studies, Risk, Time Factors, United States