The Pill Linked to Lower Ovarian Cancer Risk

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Newer oral contraceptives containing low doses of estrogen and newer progestogens are associated with a reduced risk for ovarian cancer in young women, according to researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark whose observational study was published in BMJ.

The researchers analyzed data from national prescribing and cancer registries between 1995 and 2014 for about 1.9 million Danish women ages 15 to 49. They categorized the women as:

  • Never users: Those with no record of being prescribed oral, hormonal contraceptives
  • Current or recent users: Those prescribed hormonal contraceptives within the past year
  • Former users: Those prescribed hormonal contraceptives more than a year previous

Approximately 86 percent of the oral contraceptives prescribed were combined estrogen/progestogen products. After adjusting for risk factors like age, the researchers determined that ovarian cancer incidence was highest in women who had never used oral contraceptives. They estimated that birth control pills may have prevented about 21 percent of ovarian cancers. They also determined that the protective effect increased with longer periods of use and persisted for several years after the pills were discontinued.

Sourced from: BMJ