Women who take a newer version of birth control pills have a doubled risk of developing potentially fatal blood clots, according to a new study published in the British medical journal BMJ.
Venous thromboembolism is a serious condition that encompasses both deep vein thrombosis — when a person develops a blood clot in the legs — and pulmonary embolism, in which the clot travels to the lungs and obstructs breathing. VTE is potentially fatal, and the study indicates that women who take combined oral contraceptives with newer progesterone formulations are two times more likely to develop it as opposed to women who take a pill with an older version of the synthetic hormone.
To assess the risks among different birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progesterone, research fellow Yana Vinogradova of the University of Nottingham examined medical records from two large U.K. patient databases to compare birth control prescriptions for women who developed VTE and and women who didn’t. She excluded women who had recently had surgery, been pregnant or were already taking anticoagulants before starting their birth control, as such patients have heightened risk for blood clots regardless of hormonal birth control.
After finding over 10,000 cases of women with VTE and matching them with controls of the same age and other factors, she found that women who took combined birth control with newer progesterone formulations (desogestrel, gestodene, drospirenone and cyproterone) had about two times greater odds of developing blood clots than women who took older birth control formulations with norgestimate, or levonorgestrel and norethisterone.
Women who take any kind of birth control pill are at a slightly higher risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke. In fact, in the course of this study, researchers found that patients on birth control had a threefold
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