Pill use for 15 years 'halves risk of developing ovarian cancer'

Taking the oral contraceptive pill for 15 years can halve a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer, claim UK researchers.

The benefits are so great, they outweigh the ‘short lived’ elevated risk of breast and cervical cancers associated with taking the Pill, according to eminent epidemiologist Sir Richard Peto, from Oxford University, who co-authored the study. 

‘Young women don’t have to worry about cancer from taking the Pill because the eventual reduction in ovarian cancer is bigger than any increase in other types of cancer caused by the Pill,’ he said. 

The findings come from a systematic review of 45 epidemiological studies, including over 23,000 women with ovarian cancer and nearly 90,000 controls. This showed that the relative risk of ovarian cancer was 0.73 for women taking oral contraceptives. 

Among the women with ovarian cancer, 31 per cent had used oral contraceptives, and were diagnosed an average of 20 years after they stopped taking the Pill. In the control group, 37 per cent had a history of using the Pill.

rachel.liddle@haymarket.com

www.thelancet.com

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