Oral contraceptives and risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer among high-risk women: a systematic review and meta-analysis

J Clin Oncol. 2013 Nov 20;31(33):4188-98. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2013.48.9021. Epub 2013 Oct 21.


Purpose: To estimate the risks of ovarian cancer and breast cancer associated with oral contraceptive (OC) use among women at elevated risk owing to mutations in BRCA1/2 or a strong family history.

Methods: We searched PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and ClinicalTrials.gov for studies published 2000 to 2012 that evaluated associations between OC use and breast or ovarian cancer among women who are carriers of a BRCA1/2 mutation or have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer.

Results: From 6,476 unique citations, we identified six studies examining ovarian cancer risk in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers and eight studies examining breast cancer risk in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers. For BRCA1/2 mutation carriers combined, meta-analysis showed an inverse association between OC use and ovarian cancer (odds ratio [OR], 0.58; 95% CI, 0.46 to 0.73) and a nonstatistically significant association with breast cancer (OR, 1.21; 95% CI, 0.93 to 1.58). Findings were similar when examining BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers separately. Data were inadequate to perform meta-analyses examining duration or timing of use. For women with a family history of ovarian or breast cancer, we identified four studies examining risk for ovarian cancer and three for breast cancer, but differences between studies precluded combining the data for meta-analyses, and no overall pattern could be discerned.

Conclusion: Our analyses suggest that associations between ever use of OCs and ovarian and breast cancer among women who are BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation carriers are similar to those reported for the general population.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics
  • BRCA2 Protein / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Contraceptives, Oral / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Risk Assessment


  • BRCA1 Protein
  • BRCA2 Protein
  • Contraceptives, Oral