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Oral Contraceptives Cut Ovarian Cancer Risk
Date:1/25/2008

The Pill prevents as many as 30,000 deaths each year, study says

FRIDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Woman who take oral contraceptives greatly reduce their risk of developing ovarian cancer, and the longer they take them the greater the protection, a new study confirms.

The use of oral contraceptives has long been connected with reductions in the incidence of ovarian cancer. The authors of the new study say their findings show that the Pill has already prevented 200,000 ovarian cancers and 100,000 deaths worldwide. Over the coming decades, use of the Pill will prevent some 30,000 cases of ovarian cancer each year, they contend.

"What's new here is that we have brought together all the people who have done epidemiological studies on ovarian cancer," said study co-author Dr. Valerie Beral, of Oxford University's Cancer Research UK Epidemiology Unit, in England. "This is pretty much what we know today."

"If women take the Pill, [ovarian] cancer is not their worry," Beral added.

For the study, Beral's team -- the Collaborative Group on Epidemiological Studies of Ovarian Cancer -- analyzed the results of 45 studies of ovarian cancer. These studies included 23,257 women with the disease and 87,303 women who did not have the disease. Thirty-one percent of those with ovarian cancer had used oral contraceptives, compared with 37 percent of the women who did not have cancer.

The researchers found that women who took oral contraceptives for 10 years reduced their risk of ovarian cancer from 12 per 1,000 women to eight per 1,000, and death from the disease from seven per 1,000 women to five per 1,000. They also found that this protective effect can last for decades after a woman stops using the Pill.

The findings are published in the Jan. 26 issue of The Lancet.

The protection from ovarian cancer is greater than the risk of other cancers associated with use of the Pill, such as
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