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Newer Contraceptives Don't Increase Heart Risk
Date:1/15/2009

But more research is needed because they may lead to blood clots, study says

THURSDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Newer formulations of birth control pills don't seem to increase the risk of heart disease as much as older forms did, a new study says.

But more research on the newer generations of contraceptives is needed to delineate the specific effects. This is especially true because more women over age 35 are taking hormonal contraceptives, they're taking them for longer periods of time, and the U.S. population is increasingly obese, said the authors of the study, published in the Jan. 20 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"Newer formulations that have come out in the last decade do not appear to raise blood pressure to the same degree that older formulations did, so we're calling for long-term research of newer formulations because they may be very good -- so good that we could even use them as prevention rather than contraception. Or they could be bad or there could be some other thing that's happening with newer formulations," said study co-author Dr. C. Noel Bairey Merz, director of the Women's Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles.

"Hormonal contraception for young premenopausal women remains safer than pregnancy, so it's safe and effective for contraception," Bairey Merz added.

Hormonal contraceptives -- birth control pills, patches and vaginal rings -- are among the most commonly prescribed contraceptives. They're used by 11.6 million American women, or 19 percent. The Pill was introduced in the 1960s and 80 percent of women have used hormonal contraceptives at some point in their lives, according to background information in the study.

Newer forms of the pill contain less estrogen and so are safer while still being effective, the study authors said.

When an arm of the landmark Women's Health Initiative study was stopp
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