And women's risk gets even smaller 10 years after stopping the drug, researchers say
FRIDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Women taking oral contraceptives are at a slightly increased risk for developing cervical cancer, but a decade after stopping the pill even this very small risk disappears, a new British study suggests.
However, that finding doesn't change the recommendation for women to continue getting screened for cervical cancer, experts say.
"This is good news," said lead researcher Dr. Jane Green, an epidemiologist in the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford. "We have been able to estimate the lifetime risk of cervical cancer for women on the pill and find it's really quite small," she said.
"The small increase in cervical cancer we see in women who are taking oral contraceptives starts to fall once pill use stops and has really gone away by 10 years after stopping use," Green said.
"The pill has many other benefits, including reducing the risk of other cancers, such as ovarian cancer and womb cancer," Green added.
The report is published in the Nov.10 issue of The Lancet.
In the study, Green and her colleagues from the International Collaboration of Epidemiological Studies of Cervical Cancer collected data on almost 16,600 women with cervical cancer and more than 35,500 women without cervical cancer. These women had participated in a total of 24 studies.
Green's team confirmed that the risk of cervical cancer among women who use oral contraceptives does increase over time. But this increase in risk is very small -- women who take contraceptives for five years or more have only about twice the risk compared with women who never took the pill.
In absolute terms, that means that a 20-year-old woman living in a developed country who uses an oral contraceptive for 10 years increases her odds of developing cervical cancer by age 50 from 3
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