From animal intestines as condoms to the (even more unreliable) Coitus Interruptus, contraception has had it’s ups and downs (pardon the pun). Even oral contraceptives which were first introduced in the 1960s have had their fair share of bad rap (weight gain, increased blood pressure, deep vein thrombosis and an increased risk of breast cancer anyone?).
But now a study by researchers at Oxford University published in the Lancet Oncology Journal has found that the pill significantly reduces the risk of womb (or endometrial) cancer.
The same researchers had already established back in 2008 that taking the pill for 15 years can halve the risk of ovarian cancer, but it’s not until now that its preventative effect on womb cancer has been discovered. Better still, they also found that this protection can last well after a woman has stopped taking the pill – up to 30 years - with the longer they used it, the lower the risk of developing womb cancer.
Professor Valerie Beral, author of the study says: “The strong protective effect of oral contraceptives against endometrial cancer – which persists for decades after stopping the pill – means that women who use it when they are in their 20s or even younger continue to benefit into their 50s and older when cancer becomes more common.”
It seems that the oestrogen component of combined pills is behind the protective effect (despite modern pills containing less oestrogen than the original contraceptives of the 60s) but for those of us feeling vaguely uncertain about taking those daily doses of hormones this study is good news indeed.
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