Contraceptive pill 'can protect against certain cancer types'

23 March 2017

Women who take the contraceptive pill slash their risk of getting womb, bowel and ovarian for up to 30 years after taking it, new research has discovered.

Experts at the University of Aberdeen found ladies using the medication during their "reproductive years" are less likely to be diagnosed with the diseases than women who have never taken it, and they also found the pill doesn’t lead to other cancer risks later in life.

Dr Lisa Iversen and her team studied 46,000 British women for up to 44 years, making it the longest experiment of its type, and concluded that protective benefits of the pill lasted for 35 years after the ladies came off it.

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The women took the pill for an average of just three and a half years during their 20s and 30s but it helped increased their chances of fending off cancer decades later, when they’d be at greater risk of it. The likelihood of ovarian or womb cancer was cut by a third, and they were also a fifth less likely to be diagnosed with bowel cancer.

While women have been warned that the contraceptive pill is linked to increased risk of cervical or breast cancer, researchers pointed out that these dangers disappear completely after five years once they stop taking the pill altogether. And when the menopause arrives and boosts the threat of cancer, women who took the pill previously aren’t any more likely to develop any form of the disease.

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“Because the study has been going for such a long time we are able to look at the very long-term effects, if there are any, associated with the pill,” Dr Iversen said.

“What we found from looking at up to 44 years’ worth of data was that having ever used the pill, women are less likely to get colorectal, endometrial and ovarian cancer. So, the protective benefits from using the pill during their reproductive years are lasting for at least 30 years after women have stopped using the pill.”

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The study, funded by bodies such as the Medical Research Council, Imperial Cancer Research Fund and the British Heart Foundation, was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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