Oral contraceptives (birth control pills) are hormone-containing medications that are taken orally to prevent pregnancy. They prevent pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation and preventing sperm from passing through the cervix. A large study involving over 250,000 women found that using oral contraceptives protects against ovarian and endometrial cancer. The protective effect lasts for decades after the use is discontinued.
Observational studies, both large prospective cohort studies and population-based case-control studies account for nearly all of the research on the link between oral contraceptives and cancer risk. Data from observational studies cannot prove conclusively that exposure, in this case, oral contraceptives, causes (or prevents) cancer. That’s because women who use oral contraceptives may differ from those who don’t in ways other than their oral contraceptive use, and it’s possible that these other differences, rather than their oral contraceptive use, explain their different cancer risks.
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 drug is no longer used. The findings have been published in the journal Cancer Research.
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 detected up to 30-35 years after discontinuationSA 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 in the 1960s, and 80 per cent of all women in Western Europe have used them at some point in their lives. Oral contraceptives contain synthetic forms of the female sex hormones oestrogen and progestin. Oral contraceptives contain oestrogen and progestin, which prevent ovulation and thus protect against pregnancy.
The current study compared the incidence of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers among women who had used oral contraceptive pills and those who had never used them.
“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 detected up to 30-35 years after discontinuation” One of the study’s leading researchers, sa Johansson of Uppsala University’s Department of Immunology, Genetics, and Pathology, says
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 vanished after a few years,” Johansson says. “Our findings suggest that, even if there is an increased short-term risk, the lifetime risk of breast cancer may not differ between ever and never users.”
Women who have used oral contraceptives in the past are less likely to develop endometrial cancer than women who have never used oral contraceptives. Risk is reduced by at least 30%, with a greater risk reduction as oral contraceptives are used for a longer period of time. After a woman stops using oral contraceptives, the protective effect lasts for many years.
Women who have used oral contraceptives in the past have a 30% to 50% lower risk of ovarian cancer than women who have never used oral contraceptives. This protection has been found to increase with the length of time a woman uses oral contraceptives and to last for up to 30 years after she stops using them.
The current study’s findings are significant because oral contraceptive use has been linked to a variety of adverse effects, including deep vein thrombosis and breast cancer.
“We have demonstrated that, in addition to preventing pregnancy, oral contraceptive pills have other beneficial effects. 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 PhD students.