A new study has found that birth control pills are not only good at fighting off unwanted pregnancies, but also endometrial cancer.
Contraception pills first revolutionized the world back in the 1960s, when they gave women an immense amount of control over their own reproductive capabilities. To this day it remains one of the most effective and most widely used methods of preventing unwanted pregnancies. Its formula may have changed over the years, but its efficiency did not.
And now, a new study suggests that contraception pills are about to revolutionize the world once again as a team of British researchers from the University of Oxford has shown that women who take birth control pills benefit for long-term protection against endometrial cancer, even if they only take the pills for just a few years.
What’s more, the longer women take birth control pills, the more their risk of developing endometrial cancer diminishes. The benefits are also long-lasting as the study concluded that women who took the pill back in the 1960s still have the same cancer rate reduction as women who only recently started taking the pill.
Lead researcher Valerie Beral and her team have estimated that these products have kept about 400.000 women in wealthy nations from developing endometrial cancer over the last 50 years. Roughly half of these potential cases were just between the years of 2005 and 2014.
Beral gave a statement explaining that “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”.
For their study, the researchers looked at 36 previously conducted studies, with a total number of subjects with endometrial cancer passing 27.200, and a control group of more than 115.700 women without endometrial cancer. It took the researchers ten (10) years to collect and examine data from all of these women.
What they found was that taking birth control pills for five (5) years straight cuts a woman’s chances of developing endometrial cancer by almost one quarter. If she continues to take these pills for another five (5) years, her chances of developing the disease will be cut by yet another quarter, and so on.
Beral pointed out that previous studies have demonstrated that birth control pills also protect against ovarian cancer. What’s ironic about all of this is that people initially used to worry that the pill may actually cause cancer.
The protective capabilities of birth control pills remained unchanged even after the team took into account factors such as a woman’s reproductive history, body fat, alcohol use, tobacco use, and ethnicity.
An interesting fact is that the levels of estrogen found in birth control pills changed from the 1960s to the 1980s. Back in the 1960s, the pills had more than twice the amount of estrogen they had in the 1980s. Yet, the levels of estrogen found in today’s birth control pills are still high enough that they manage to reduce a woman’s risk of developing endometrial cancer.
The study was published earlier this week, on Tuesday (August 4, 2015), in the journal The Lancet Oncology.