Ovarian cancer has the highest mortality rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Earlier research has suggested that combined oral contraceptives (birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progestogen), may help lower the risk of ovarian cancer in women of reproductive age. The positive effects of this drug lasted for years after the women stopped taking them, the studies noted.
Though, these past results was only functional to older contraceptives that contained higher amounts of estrogen and older forms of progestogen. But as for the new pills, little was known about the effects.
New research was conducted to study the effects of newer birth control pills on the risk of ovarian cancer.
Lisa Iversen, a research fellow with the Institute of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom, led the new study.
Reviewing contraceptives and ovarian cancer
The team of researchers studied data available on almost 1.9 million Danish women who were between 15 and 49 years old. They looked at several Danish national databases and investigated the effect of both combined and progestogen-only hormonal contraceptives.
The women were grouped into “never users” consisting of women who had not been prescribed any hormonal contraception, “current or recent users” who were either taking birth control pills or had stopped taking them up to 1 year earlier. Finally, “former users” consisting of women who had stopped use more than 1 year before the study.
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About 86 percent of the oral contraceptives that the women used were combined pills.
To analyze the risk of ovarian cancer among the different groups of women, the scientists used some factors such as the women’s age and the number of times they had been pregnant.
Pills prevented ovarian cancers
The researchers concluded that women who had never used hormonal contraceptives had the highest incidence of ovarian cancer.
From the study, the researchers discovered 7.5 cases per 100,000 person-years among the women who had never used birth control pills, whereas in the remaining groups of women, the incidence was 3.2 per 100,000 person-years.
This means that the use of hormonal contraception prevented 21% of ovarian cancers in the study population, the team concluded.
Iversen and colleagues conclude, “Use of contemporary combined hormonal contraceptives is linked with a reduction in ovarian cancer risk in women of reproductive age.