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Abstract

To evaluate the relation between use of oral contraceptives and the incidence of breast cancer, the authors reviewed the epidemiologic literature and used quantitative methods to summarize the data. Study results for any use of oral contraceptives were pooled using a model that accounted for both interstudy and intrastudy variability. the authors also explored interstudy variability and modeled a duration–effect relation between oral contraceptive use and breast cancer. Case–control and follow-up studies were considered separately. Overall, the authors observed no increase in the risk of breast cancer for women who had ever used oral contraceptives, even after a long duration of use. These results were consistent across study design. However, data combined from case–control studies revealed a statistically significant positive trend (P = 0.001) in the risk of premenopausal breast cancer for women exposed to oral contraceptives for longer duration. This risk was predominant among women who used oral contraceptives for at least 4 years before their first term pregnancy (relative risk = 1.72; 95% confidence interval = 1.36 to 2.19). Additional study is required to determine whether this finding in a subgroup of exposed women is confirmed and whether the risk remains increased with advancing age.