Modern contraceptive pills protect women from ovarian cancer

Can the birth control pill protect against cancer?

Researchers have now found that women who use modern forms of the combined contraceptive pill have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who do not take hormonal contraception.

Scientists at the University of Aberdeen and the University of Copenhagen found in their current study that using modern versions of the combined contraceptive pill can protect women from ovarian cancer. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "British Medical Journal" (BMJ).

Reduced risk of ovarian cancer

Modern forms of the contraceptive pill contain different doses of synthetic estrogen and different types of progestogens. For women who are currently of reproductive age and use modern hormonal products, the results are reassuring because they show a reduced risk of ovarian cancer in connection with combined oral contraceptives, explains study author Dr. Lisa Iversen from the University of Aberdeen.

Data from more than 1.8 million women were evaluated

Data from more than 1.8 million women from a Danish database of nationwide information on hormonal contraceptives given by individuals was analyzed along with other information, including, for example, cancer disease records. After we sorted out the cases in which women had cancer or infertility prior to the start of the records, the research team was provided with data for more than 1.8 million women aged 15 to 49 years. A total of 86 percent of hormonal contraception was due to the combined pill, the experts say.

How did the intake affect the risk of ovarian cancer?

Taking factors such as age, number of children, education, and family history of both types of ovarian cancer into account, the team found that women who had used hormonal contraception at one time were 34 percent less likely to develop ovarian cancer. The risk was reduced by 42 percent for women who were currently using hormonal contraception and 23 percent for women who had only used this form of contraception for a year or more.

Combination pill provides better protection against ovarian cancer than progestin methods

The longer the women used hormonal contraceptives, the greater the decrease in the risk of disease among the users, and the overall reduction was more pronounced in patients who took the combination pill than in those who only used so-called progestin methods such as progestin pills, implants, or a progestin-releasing intrauterine device, explain the study authors.

What were the restrictions?

However, the study has an important limitation. When women were over 50 years old, they were no longer examined. However, according to Cancer Research UK, 53 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed each year in women 65 years and older. The latest figures show that around 7,400 new cases of ovarian cancer occur each year in the UK alone.

Adverse effects of taking the pill

Researchers have already found that women who take hormonal contraceptives are at increased risk of developing depression. In addition, hormonal contraceptives, especially the combination pill, are associated with a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. However, the current study shows that the combination pill also has advantages over other methods of contraception. (as)

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Video: Can birth control pills protect women from cancer? (January 2022).