Researchers from the Collaborative Group on Epidemiological Studies on Endometrial Cancer recently discovered that using oral contraceptives – commonly known as ‘the pill’ – for a few years significant reduces the long-term risk of womb (endometrial) cancer. Moreover, the longer the pill is taken, the lesser is the risk.

Findings After Detailed Investigation

For a thorough evaluation, researchers gathered data from 36 studies comprising of 27,276 women suffering from endometrial cancer. The studies had been conducted in Europe, North America, Asia, South Africa and Australia – a huge collection of epidemiological evidence regarding the consequences of oral contraceptives.

According to the findings published in The Lancet Oncology journal, every 5 years of using the pill reduces the risk of womb cancer by about 1/4th. In countries with higher incomes, using oral contraceptives for 10 years reduces the risk of endometrial cancer, before the age of 75, in 2.3 to 1.3 cases per 100 users. According to study author Dr Naomi Allen from the University of Oxford, UK, the evidence also suggested that in the last 50 years – 1965-2014 – at least 400,000 cases of endometrial cancer have been evaded in high-income countries because of oral contraceptives.

Previous studies also suggest that oral contraceptives prevent the incidence of ovarian cancer as well.

The Pill Offers Long-term Protection

What’s more intriguing is that this protective effect persists for decades after the pill is discontinued. “This means that women who use the pill when they are in their 20’s, or even younger, continue to benefit into their 50’s and beyond, when the risk of cancer becomes more pronounced”, explained study author Professor Valerie Beral from the University of Oxford, UK.

Furthermore, the proportional reduction of cancer risk did not vary greatly with reproductive history, body fat (adiposity), ethnicity or alcohol and tobacco use.

Concern About Estrogen Doses: Birth Control Pills Reduce Risk Of Womb Cancer

Oral contraceptives in the 1960’s contained double the amount of estrogen as compared to pills in the 1980’s. Even thought the amount of estrogen in oral contraceptives has been significantly reduced over the years, the reduction in cancer risk was equally great for women in the 1980’s and earlier decades.

These findings suggest that the present amounts of estrogen – lower doses – are still sufficient to reduce the occurrence of womb cancer in women. The study was funded by the Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK.