Contraceptive pill could reduce cancer risks

Taking the contraceptive pill does not increase a woman’s chances of developing cancer and may even reduce the risk for most women, according to a study of 46,000 patients.

However, there was an increased risk for women who used the pill for more than eight years, said the study published at BMJ Online First.

esearchers from the University of Aberdeen analysed data spanning a 36-year period from the RCGP Oral Contraception Study, which began in 1968.

They calculated the cancer risks using two sets of data. One related to cancers reported while the women were registered with their recruiting GP,  while the second dataset also included cancers notified by the central NHS registries after women had left their recruiting GP. 

In both data sets there was no overall increased risk of cancer among pill users. When the first dataset was used, women who had taken the pill at some time during their lives had a 3 per cent reduced risk of developing any cancer.

When the larger main dataset was used, the reduction was 12 per cent, equating to approximately one fewer case of cancer for every 2,200 women who had used the pill for a year.

The researchers said: ‘In this UK cohort, oral contraception was not associated with an overall increased risk of any cancer, indeed it may even produce a net public health gain.’

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