The Pill Cuts Ovarian Cancer Risk Later in Life: Study

Friday, 07 Jun 2013 07:29 AM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
Women who use birth control pills are less likely to develop ovarian cancer later in life, a new analysis of past studies suggests.
 
Researchers pooled data from 24 studies and found Pill users had a 27 percent lower risk of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. And longer use seemed to be tied to more protection.
 
"It reinforces that there is a positive relationship between the use of oral contraceptives and ovarian cancer prevention in the general public," said Dr. Laura Havrilesky, who led the study at the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina.
 
"I think it adds some scientific weight to that relationship."
 
However, the review paper can't prove that using oral contraception lowers a woman's risk of disease - because there could have been other, unmeasured differences between women who took the Pill and those who didn't, researchers noted.
 
About one in 72 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer during her lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.
 
The disease is often caught at an advanced stage, and the majority of women who are diagnosed will die from ovarian cancer. So researchers are eager to find ways to lower a woman's chance of developing it in the first place.
 
Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a normal weight may be one way to do that. Some studies have suggested that using birth control pills - which contain the hormones estrogen and progestin or progestin only - may also lower a woman's risk over the long run.
 
To clear up that picture, Havrilesky and her colleagues combined data from 24 studies that compared thousands of women who took the Pill for various lengths of time, at a range of ages, with those who didn't use oral contraception.
 
Any use of the Pill was linked to a lower risk of ovarian cancer, they found. Women who were on birth control pills for 10 years or longer were half as likely to develop the disease as those who didn't use them at all, the study team reported Wednesday in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
 
If the Pill itself was responsible for that reduced risk, the researchers calculated that 185 women would have to use it for five years to prevent one case of ovarian cancer.
 
But, because none of the studies randomly assigned women to take the Pill or not - each woman made the decision with her own doctor - it's not clear that the contraceptives, themselves, explain the whole cancer difference.
 
Use Caution
The researchers said there hasn't been enough time to study how the specific hormone formulations in contemporary birth control pills affect ovarian cancer risk decades down the line.
 
Because of that and other limitations, women should use "considerable caution" when figuring the new findings into their own personal decisions about the Pill, they wrote.
 
What's more, other research suggests women who take the Pill are at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer, said Eduardo Franco, head of cancer epidemiology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
 
"It is the sort of thing that requires a frank conversation between a woman and healthcare provider," Franco, who wasn't involved in the new research, told Reuters Health.
 
He said the findings are not surprising and that many doctors are convinced birth control pills do lower ovarian cancer risk.
 
"I don't think there's a question of the link," Franco said. What's important, he added, is "understanding the caveats that come with the reduced risk of ovarian cancer."
 
"What we've got right now may be the best evidence that we ever are able to have. I don't necessarily think that it is enough to tell a physician to have their patients use oral contraceptives solely for the purpose of preventing ovarian cancer," Havrilesky told Reuters Health.
 
"But I think it's enough to say this is a possible advantage in women who are considering use of oral contraceptives" for birth control or other medical reasons, she said.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

The Science Behind Renee Zellweger's New Face

Thursday, 23 Oct 2014 13:14 PM

Renee Zellweger was almost unrecognizable when she appeared at an awards ceremony earlier this week. With her slender bo . . .

Ebola Nurse Amber Vinson Free of Virus, Family Says

Thursday, 23 Oct 2014 08:23 AM

Amber Vinson, one of two nurses battling Ebola after contracting it from a patient at a Dallas hospital, is now free of  . . .

Drug Shows Promise Against Ankylosing Spondylitis

Thursday, 23 Oct 2014 08:18 AM

Swiss drugmaker Novartis said on Thursday two late-stage trials showed its drug secukinumab improved symptoms of ankylos . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved