It is true that oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) can help protect against certain types of cancer. Specifically, OCPs have been shown to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer and endometrial (uterine) cancer. The protective effect of OCPs is thought to be due to the hormone progestin, which is present in many types of OCPs. Progestin helps to reduce the levels of estrogen in the body, which can help to reduce the risk of these types of cancer.
The protective effect of OCPs is stronger in women who use them for longer periods of time. However, it is important to note that OCPs may also have some potential risks and side effects, so it is important to discuss the use of OCPs with a healthcare provider to determine if they are right for you.
A large study from Uppsala University involving over 250,000 women found that using oral contraception protects against ovarian and endometrial cancer. The protective effect lasts for decades after the use is discontinued. The findings have been published in the journal Cancer Research.
We’ve discovered that, in addition to preventing pregnancy, oral contraceptives have other advantages. Our findings may help women and doctors make more informed decisions about which women should use oral contraceptives.Therese Johansson
With a lifetime risk of just over 2%, ovarian and endometrial cancer are among the most common gynaecological cancers. Endometrial cancer is slightly more common, but because the symptoms are more obvious and thus often detected at an early stage, the mortality rate is low. However, ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest cancers because it is frequently not detected until it has spread to other parts of the body.
The first oral contraceptive pill was approved already in the 1960s, and 80 percent of all women in Western Europe have used oral contraceptives at some point in their life. Oral contraceptives include oestrogen and progestin, which are synthetic forms of female sex hormones. The oestrogen and progestin in oral contraceptives prevent ovulation and thereby protect against pregnancy.
In the current study, the scientists compared the incidence of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers between women that had used oral contraceptive pills and never users.
“Women who had used oral contraceptives had a significantly lower risk of developing both ovarian and endometrial cancer. The risk was approximately 50% lower fifteen years after discontinuing oral contraceptives. However, reduced risk was found up to 30-35 years after discontinuation” sa Johansson, a researcher at Uppsala University’s Department of Immunology, Genetics, and Pathology, is one of the study’s principal investigators.
Oral contraceptive pills, on the other hand, have previously been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
“Surprisingly, we only found a small increased risk of breast cancer among oral contraceptive users, and the increased risk disappeared within a few years after discontinuation,” Johansson says. “Our findings suggest that the lifetime risk of breast cancer may not differ between ever and never users, even if there is an increased short-term risk.”
The current study’s findings are significant because oral contraceptive use has been linked to a variety of side effects, including deep vein thrombosis and breast cancer.
“We’ve discovered that, in addition to preventing pregnancy, oral contraceptives have other advantages. Our findings may help women and doctors make more informed decisions about which women should use oral contraceptives” According to Therese Johansson, one of the study’s Ph.D. students.