Birth Control Provides Protection Against Endometrial Cancer

A new study, which was published in the Lancet Oncology, is showing that if a woman uses oral contraceptives, even for just a few years, it helps reduce the risk of endometrial cancer. Researchers from the Collaborative Group on Epidemiological Studies on Endometrial Cancer is estimating that in that past 50 years, about 400,000 cases of endometrial cancer have been prevented by using the oral contraceptive in high-income countries.

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The study shows that the longer birth control, such as the pill, is used, the bigger reduction in risk of endometrial cancer. Researchers say that about 200,000 cases of endometrial cancers have been prevented in just the last 10 years alone, which would be from 2005 until 2014. The best part about this study was that it showed that the pill and other contraceptives provided long-term protection against endometrial cancer, which is really a great sign. Since cancer becomes more common the older you get, even if you have used the pill in your 30s, you are still protected against the endometrial cancer. The author of the study was Professor Valerie Beral, who works at the University of Oxford in the UK. Beral added that previous studies have shown how the pill protects against ovarian cancer, and back in the day people used to think that the pill might have caused cancer, but really in the long-term is helps prevent the risk of cancer.

For this study, the researchers analyzed data from 27,276 women who had endometrial cancer in 36 studies from North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and South Africa. This was basically all of the epidemiological evidence ever collected on the real effects of oral contraceptives. The findings showed that every 5 years that a woman was on oral contraceptives the risk of endometrial cancer by about a quarter. In the higher income countries, 10 years of oral contraceptive use reduced the risk of developing endometrial cancer before age 75 from 2.3 to 1.3 cases per 100 users. This study was funded by the Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK.

While the estrogen doses in the oral contraceptives have decreased through the years, the reduction in risk of endometrial cancer was just as good for women who used the pills in the 1980s compared to the pill in the 1960s. Back in the 1960s there was still


Although estrogen doses in oral contraceptives have decreased appreciably over the years, with pills in the 1960s typically containing more than double the estrogen dose of pills in the 1980s, the reduction in endometrial cancer risk was at least as great for women who used the pill during the 1980s as for those who used it in earlier decades. These results suggest that the amount of hormones in the lower-dose pills is still sufficient to reduce the incidence of endometrial cancer, say the authors. Another part of the study was the risk did not really change when it came to looking at the women’s reproductive history, alcohol use, tobacco use, ethnicity, or amount of total body fat.

The author of the study, Dr. Naomi Allen, who also works at the University of Oxford UK also said that the evidence is suggesting that there is a huge risk of endometrial cancer just by using the pill or other oral contraceptives for medium use. Since this study is the biggest study to date to look at the impact of birth control pills as relating to endometrial cancer, the results of this study should be considered fairly accurate, because the size of the population used was quite large. The thing about this study that most women don’t think about is the fact that even minor use of the pill during their younger years can significantly reduce their risk of endometrial cancer in their later years, including through the years of menopause and other times when cancer risks are elevated. Even if a woman does not want to be on the pill for sex, they should try to use the oral contraceptives for at least a few years in their 20s or 30s, since now the pill is shown to protect against endometrial and ovarian cancers, which are two of the biggest cancer risks for women in their older years. You also can get these cancers when you are younger too, so it makes sense that using the pill would be a great way to protect yourself, even if your risk of getting the cancers are not that high.


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Jeanne Rose
Jeanne Rose lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has been a freelance writer since 2010. She took Allied Health in vocational school where she earned her CNA/PCA, and worked in a hospital for 3 years. Jeanne enjoys writing about science, health, politics, business, and other topics as well.

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