Study links the Pill to increased lupus risk

April 9, 2009 It found women taking birth control pills, especially those who have just started taking them, may be 2 1/2 times more likely to contract the autoimmune disease.

The link between the two has been debated for some time. This new study in Arthritis Care and Research adds weight to earlier studies that have shown a connection.

Researchers speculate that estrogen from oral contraceptives could be responsible for the increased risk. Estrogen can affect the body's immune response which could then trigger a genetic predisposition to the disease. They add that the newer oral contraceptives are substantially less likely to increase the risk of lupus. But other experts say the risk is quite small.

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