Researchers of a new study found that the use of contemporary contraceptive pills reduced the ovarian cancer risk among women in childbearing age.
The risk reduction was seen in those who used combined hormonal birth control pills, but not among those who used progestin-only pills.
Oral Contraceptive Users And Non-Users
To investigate the relationship between the usage of contemporary oral contraceptives and ovarian cancer, researchers of a new study published in the journal BMJ conducted an analysis of ovarian cancer incidences in nearly 2 million women in Denmark who were between 15 and 49 years old from 1995 to 2014. Those who immigrated after 1995, those who had cancer, were being treated for infertility, and those who had venous thrombosis were excluded from the study, while the remaining 1,879,227 women were categorized into three groups: those who had never used hormonal contraceptives, those who are current users, and those who used but had already stopped.
In the duration of the study, there were 771 ovarian cancer incidences among those who never used hormonal contraceptives, while there were 478 recorded ovarian cancers among those who used it. Based on their analysis, researchers found the highest ovarian cancer risks among the women who never used hormonal contraception, and lower risks were among those who had used it at some point in their lives.
Birth Control Pills Reduce Ovarian Cancer Risk
Researchers estimate a 21 percent reduction among the participants of the study who used hormonal birth control. The reduction was evidently strengthened the longer that the pills were being used, but diminished once usage is stopped. It’s also worth noting that researchers observed the risk reduction among those who used combined hormonal contraceptives, but no reduction among the women who used progestin-only contraception. They note, however, that the users of progestin-only contraception in their study were few, so no specific conclusions may be drawn from the data they have.
“In this study of women of reproductive age (that is, younger than 50 years) living in Denmark, we found that ever use of any contemporary hormonal contraception was associated with a reduced risk of ovarian cancer, an effect that strengthened with longer periods of current use and persisted for several years after stopping use,” researchers said, also noting that most of the reductions were found among the women who used combined hormonal birth control.
Combined Contraceptive Pills
Over 100 million women around the world use hormonal contraceptives every day. Not every woman is the same, however, and health care providers might recommend one type of birth control pill over another depending on the patient’s medical history.
The main difference between combined and progestin-only contraceptive pills is that progestin-only pills do not contain estrogen, while combined or combination pills contain both estrogen and progestin. It’s worth noting that while both pills may suppress ovulation and effect changes in the cervical mucus and the endometrium so as to prevent pregnancies, neither can provide protection against sexually transmitted infections including HIV.