[ScienceDaily] Oral contraceptives can protect you from ovarian and endometrial cancer


A large-scale study from Uppsala University, involving more than 250,000 women, found that oral contraceptive use can help fight ovarian and endometrial cancer. Efficacy persists for several decades after discontinuation of use. The study was published in the journal Cancer Research.

Ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer are among the most common gynecological cancers with a lifetime risk of just over 2%. Endometrial cancer is slightly more common because it has more obvious symptoms and is therefore often detected in its early stages, with a low mortality rate. However, ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest cancers, as it is often not detected until it has spread to other parts of the body.

The first oral contraceptive pill was approved in the 1960s, and 80% of women in Western Europe have used the pill at some point in their lives. Birth control pills include estrogen and progestin, which are synthetic forms of female sex hormones. The estrogen and progestin in birth control pills prevent ovulation thereby protecting against pregnancy.

In the current study, the scientists compared the rates of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer among women who used oral contraceptives and never used them.

Åsa Johansson, one of the lead researchers behind the study, in the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University, said: “It is clear that women who have used oral contraceptives are at risk. incidence of both ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer is much lower. Fifteen years after stopping birth control pills, the risk is still about 50% lower. And the risk of the disease remained reduced for up to 30-35 years after stopping the drug.”

However, oral contraceptives are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

“Surprisingly, we only found an increased risk of breast cancer among those taking the pill, and the increased risk of breast cancer disappeared a few years after stopping the pill,” says Johansson. .” “Our results suggest that the lifetime risk of breast cancer may not be much different from that of non-users and non-users, even with an increased short-term risk.”

The results from the current study are important, as oral contraceptive use is often associated with side effects such as deep vein thrombosis and breast cancer.

Therese Johansson, one of the doctors, said: “In addition to protecting against pregnancy, we have shown that oral contraceptives have other positive effects.”

The source Materials provided by Uppsala University. Original written by Linda Koffmar.


  1. Karlsson T, Johansson T, Höglund T, Ek W, Johansson Å. Time-dependent effects of oral contraceptive use on breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers. Cancer Research, 2020 DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-20-2476


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