Dr. Evans introduces himself and explains how smoking while taking birth control pills contributes to a woman's risk for strokes.
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Hi, I am Dr. Sean Evans. I am a neurologist and Assistant Professor of Neurosciences at UCSD. The biggest issue for women is estrogen replacement therapy. This has gotten a lot of attention in the news, and it really breaks down into two categories. The first category is, younger women who are using estrogen as part of their oral contraceptive or birth control method that does very slightly, but statistically increase your stroke risk. For most women obviously the benefits of the ease and accuracy and reliability of the birth control method make oral contraceptive still the clear choice, but the critical thing is the interaction between smoking and the oral contraceptives. By themselves, birth control pills make a teeny, tiny increase in the risk of stroke in young women, but when combined with smoking, especially significant amounts of smoking, daily smoking and ongoing smoking, that actually starts to significantly raise their risk and so, while there’s lots of reasons not to smoke for any age group, certainly young women who use oral contraceptives or birth control pills should definitely not be smoking.