Dangers of Newer Oral Contraceptives

iStock_000002874391_MediumNewer oral contraceptives, heralded as providing effective birth control at lower doses and often used to stabilize both menstrual cycles and mood in some women, have been shown to be associated with about twice the risk of developing blood clots, known in the parlance as venous thromboembolism or VTE, when compared with older formulations, a study Rick and I discuss on PodMed this week and published in the British Medical Journal concludes.  As compared with women who have no exposure to oral contraceptives at all the risk is about 4 times higher for VTE, which can be fatal.  Rick points out that while the relative risks are certainly alarming, the absolute risk of blood clot formation is still quite low, about 14-17 excess cases of VTE per 10,000 women treated per year.  Rick offers the opinion that based on this data, which is from a large number of women treated over a lengthy period, if women are going to use oral contraceptives perhaps they should choose the older formulations, but he also advocates for a discussion with a care provider to weigh the relative risks and benefits.

Other topics this week include aflatoxin and gallbladder cancer, and an association between elevated thyroid hormone levels and fracture risk, both in JAMA, as well as efflux of high density lipoprotein and heart disease in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.  Until next week, y'all live well.

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