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New Study Suggests that Oral Contraceptive Reduces the Risk of Endometrial Cancer

The risk of having endometrial cancer can be reduced by consuming oral contraceptives for 5 years or more, according to a new study done by the Collaborative Group on Epidemiological Studies on Endometrial Cancer. Their study data estimate that from 1965 to 2014 oral contraceptives have prevented about 400,000 endometrial cancer cases in high-income countries, including 200,000 more cases over the last decade.

The research team explained that a longer use of oral contraceptives reduces the risk of endometrial cancer greatly. A relative risk of 0.76 is associated with oral contraceptive use for 5 years. In other words, 10 to 15 years of oral contraceptives intake will bring down the risk of having endometrial cancer by half. Additionally, the protective effect of the contraceptive use would last for at least 30 years. The protective effect is not dependent on the estrogen dose. Dr. Valerie Beral, DBE, AC, FRS, Director of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and colleagues utilized databases from 36 other international studies that include 115,743 women who does not have endometrial cancer and 27,276 women who has endometrial cancer. Factors considered in this study include menopausal hormone therapy use, smoking status, body mass index, parity, and age.

Dr. Valerie Beral commented that the use of oral contraceptive pills was previously associated with risk of getting cancer. However, in the long run, oral contraceptive pills will still lower the risk of developing cancer. Dr. Nicolas Wentzensen, MD, PhD., and another colleague, from the National Cancer Institute, were wondering if this study data is the answer to unlocking the optimal balance between harms and benefits of oral contraceptive pills. Both the physicians highlighted that oral contraceptive use increases the risk of cervical and breast cancers, and cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and venous thrombosis. They went on quoting that despite the study data, it is still difficult to find a proper balance between the benefits and risks of oral contraceptive pills.

References: Medscape. Lancet Oncology. Google Image.

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