Dr. Christopher Estes, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Miami School of Medicine, said "the data that exists regarding the risks of these pills needs to be taken with a grain of salt. We have known forever that contraceptive pills that contain estrogen and progesterone all elevate the risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke. The amount that it raises the risk is small, and over an entire population the increase in risk is not very great."
"As far as what I am doing with my patients, I am not changing my practice one bit," he added. "Women need to talk about contraception with their physician and make the choice which is appropriate for [them]."
Some women, especially those at risk for blood clots, heart attack or stroke, should probably not use any oral contraceptive, Estes said, noting that pregnancy itself increases the chances of having a blood clot in the leg or lung much more than any birth control pill.
The FDA-funded review that prompted this week's joint panel meeting was first released in October, and involved the medical histories of more than 800,000 American women, all of whom were on some type of birth control between 2001 and 2008. The study found that women taking the newer oral contraceptives experienced a higher rate of clots than women on older forms of the contraceptive pill.
The review also found that women on two other forms of birth control -- the Ortho Evra patch and the NuvaRing vaginal ring from Merck -- had a higher rate of clots.
The October announcement came a day after the release of a study in BMJ that also found newer birth control pills were tied to a higher risk for clots.
In that study, researchers reviewed data on all Danish women, aged 15 to 49, who were not pregnant between Januar
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