Oral contraceptive use and breast or ovarian cancer risk in BRCA1/2 carriers: A meta-analysis

S. Iodice, M. Barile, N. Rotmensz, I. Feroce, B. Bonanni, P. Radice, L. Bernard, P. Maisonneuve, S. Gandini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations are at increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Oral contraceptives (OC) use has been associated with a reduction in ovarian cancer risk and with a moderately increased breast cancer risk, which tends to level off in the few years after stopping. The association between oral contraceptive and BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations carriers is unclear. Methods: We performed a comprehensive literature search updated to March 2010 of studies on the associations between OC users and breast or ovarian cancer for ascertained BRCA1/2 carriers. We obtained summary risk estimated for ever OC users, for duration of use and time since stopping. Results: A total of 2855 breast cancer cases and 1503 ovarian cancer cases, carrying an ascertained BRCA1/2 mutation, were included in our meta-analyses, based on overall 18 studies. Use of OC was associated with a significant reduced risk of ovarian cancer for BRCA1/2 carriers (summary relative risk (SRR) = 0.50; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.33-0.75). We also observed a significant 36% risk reduction for each additional 10 years of OC use (SRR: 0.64; 95% CI, 0.53-0.78; P trend <0.01). We found no evidence of a significant association between OC and breast cancer risk in carriers (SRR: 1.13; 95% CI, 0.88-1.45) and with duration of use. OC formulations used before 1975 were associated with a significant increased risk of breast cancer (SRR: 1.47; 95% 1.06, 2.04), but no evidence of a significant association was found with use of more recent formulations (SRR: 1.17; 95% 0.74, 1.86). Conclusions: OC users carrying an ascertained BRCA1/2 mutation have a reduced risk of ovarian cancer, proportional to the duration of use. There is no evidence that recent OC formulations increase breast cancer risk in carriers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2275-2284
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • BRCA1
  • BRCA2
  • Breast cancer
  • Genetic epidemiology
  • Meta-analysis
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Ovarian cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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