Hormonal contraceptive use and risk of glioma among younger women: a nationwide case-control study

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2015 Apr;79(4):677-84. doi: 10.1111/bcp.12535.


Aim: Oral contraceptive use influences the risk for certain cancers. However, few studies have examined any link with risk of central nervous system tumours. We investigated the association between hormonal contraceptive use and glioma risk among premenopausal women in a population-based setting.

Methods: Using national administrative and health registries in Denmark to conduct a nationwide case-control study, we identified all women ages 15 to 49 years with a first time diagnosis of histologically verified glioma between 2000 and 2009. Each case was age-matched to eight population controls using risk set sampling. Based on prescription data, exposure until 2 years prior to the index date was categorized according to hormonal contraceptive type, i.e. combined oestrogen-progestagen or progestagen only, and duration of use (<1, 1 to <5, ≥5 years). We used conditional logistic regression to compute odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for glioma associated with hormonal contraceptive use, adjusting for potential confounders.

Results: We identified 317 cases and 2126 controls. Ever use of hormonal contraceptive was associated with an OR of 1.5 (95% CI 1.2, 2.0) and the OR increased with duration of use (long term, ≥5 years: OR 1.9; 95% CI 1.2, 2.9). The association between long term hormonal contraceptive use and glioma risk was most pronounced for progestagen only therapy (OR 2.4; 95% CI 1.1, 5.1), especially when this regimen constituted the sole hormonal contraceptive therapy (OR 4.1; 95% CI 0.8, 20.8).

Conclusion: Long term hormonal contraceptive use may increase the risk of glioma.

Keywords: brain tumour epidemiology; case-control study; glioma; hormonal contraceptive; risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / adverse effects*
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Glioma / chemically induced*
  • Glioma / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal