The Pill does not boost a woman’s risk of developing cancer and, for a majority of women, may even reduce that hazard, according to a long-term study.
The research, published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), was based on a study launched among 46,000 British women who had an average age of 29 when the survey began in 1968.
Roughly half of the women were taking oral contraceptives, and the other half had never taken it.
Over the 36 years of the study, many women dropped out of the study, so the investigators used two additional datasets to get a comparative view of the cancer risk.
The authors, from the University of Aberdeen, say they found no overall increased risk of cancer among Pill users, and indeed there was a reduced risk of three to 12 percent depending on which data batch was examined.
They found, though, that among women who had used the Pill for more than eight years – amounting to roughly a quarter of the Pill users – there was a statistically significant increased risk of cancer of the cervix and central nervous system.
But the same women benefited from a reduced risk of developing ovarian cancer.
“Oral contraception was not associated with an overall increased risk of cancer; indeed it may even produce a net public health gain,” says the paper.
In 2005, an Australian-authored study of women in Australia, the United States and Canada found that young women with a genetic mutation placing them at high risk of breast cancer were substantially able to reduce their risk of developing the disease if they took oral contraceptives.