Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Birth Control Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Doubts Raised About Birth Control Pill Study

Government: Study Suggesting the Pill Lowers Heart Disease Risk Is Flawed
By
WebMD Health News

Dec. 17, 2004 -- Recent research suggesting that birth control pills slightly lower women's risk of heart disease was flawed, says the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

It also announced that it doubts the validity of a separate study that suggests birth control pills reduce breast cancer risks.

The two studies in question were presented by experts from Wayne State University at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine's annual meeting in October. Data for the study came from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI). Yet according to the NHLBI, the findings bear no relationship to the findings from the WHI.

Senior WHI statisticians reviewed the two studies after their presentation. They found no evidence that oral contraceptives lower heart disease risk and said the breast cancer results might also have been misleading.

The findings are considered "exploratory" and "should not be used to reassure women about oral contraceptive use," Barbara Alving, MD, WHI director and acting NHLBI director, says in a news release.

The studies conflicted with past research.

"There is a large and reputable body of higher scientific evidence linking current oral contraceptive use to future increases in risk of stroke and heart attack, especially in older women and in smokers," Alving says.

Likewise, previous studies have linked recent use of birth control pills to an increased breast cancer risk. However, some types of oral contraceptives may cut the risk of ovarian cancer and slightly lower endometrial (uterine) cancer risk.

What was the problem with the studies? Design and interpretation flaws, Alving says.

The data came from postmenopausal women who were 50-79 years old when they enrolled in the WHI study. Results relied on the women's memories about their past oral contraceptive use and diseases they had developed. That doesn't always make for solid evidence.

"Because people can forget details, the best studies try to collect these data as close to the event as possible and to confirm any report of disease with hospital records," says Alving.

Today on WebMD

IUD
Here's what to expect.
man opening condom wrapper
Do you know the right way to use them?
 
birth control pills
Here's what to do next.
doctor and patient
His and her options.
 
Concerned teenage girl
Slideshow
hospital gown
Quiz
 
Birth Control Pills Weight Gain
Article
pregnancy test and calendar
Article
 
contraceptive pills
Slideshow
Young couple looking at each other, serious
Article
 
woman reading pregnancy test result
Article
calendar
Article