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 RARITAN, N.J., Oct. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- For the 25th consecutive year, American women rank the Pill the number one method of reversible birth control, a consensus shared by 90 percent of the country's obstetricians and gynecologists. Yet while more than four out of five obstetricians and gynecologists agree that the Pill protects against certain types of female cancers, only one in six women is clear about the Pill's possible health benefits beyond birth control.
 These are two of the key findings of the 25th Ortho Annual Birth Control Study and a companion survey of obstetricians and gynecologists. The Ortho Birth Control Study reveals that today nearly 80 percent of all women have taken the Pill at one point in their lives. The average length of use is now at 5.5 years, up 15 percent since 1992. However, this is a small portion of their reproductive lives. In contrast, when obstetricians and gynecologists were asked the number of years a woman can safely stay on the pill, the most common response was that there is no time limit.
 "Many women still believe the myth that you need to 'take a break' from the Pill for health reasons, when we now know that staying on the Pill may in fact offer protection against ovarian and endometrial cancers, as well as pelvic inflammatory disease," said Anita L. Nelson, M.D., medical director of the Women's Health Care Clinic at the Harbor- University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the UCLA School of Medicine.
 The Ortho studies also contrast beliefs about the use of the Pill in midlife women. Pill use is growing significantly among women in their later reproductive years, and nearly every physician surveyed believed healthy, non-smoking women past the age of 35 can continue to take the Pill. However, only 35 percent of women were aware that the Pill can be safely taken by many women in their 30s.
 "Many women in their late-30s to mid-40s still overlook the Pill when looking for a convenient and effective method during these later reproductive years. They confuse today's low-dose Pill with the earliest products or the Pill stories they heard while they were in their 20s," added Dr. Nelson. "Women need to be better informed about the method's safety and efficacy for women in their 30s and 40s so they can make the most informed choices."
 It is important to note that the Pill may not be right for every woman. Serious risks, which can be life-threatening and include blood clots, stroke and heart attacks, are increased if the user smokes cigarettes. Most side effects of oral contraceptives are not serious, and those that are occur infrequently. Cigarette smoking increases the risks of serious cardiovascular side effects, especially if a woman is over age 35. Women who use the Pill are strongly advised not to smoke. Some studies have reported an increase in the risk of developing breast cancer among women who use the Pill. However, the majority of studies have found no overall increase in this risk. Women should speak to their healthcare providers about how this risk relates to their individual use of the Pill.
 First undertaken in 1969 by Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation, the leading U.S. manufacturer of contraceptive products, the Ortho Annual Birth Control Study tracks women's contraceptive awareness, attitudes and usage. It is the largest and oldest study of its kind. The 1993 Ortho Birth Control Study was conducted during the spring of 1993 and includes responses from nearly 8,000 women between the ages of 15 and 50. The sample was weighted by age, marital status and geographic distribution to reflect the demographics of the population.
 This year for the first time, a companion survey was conducted among a representative sample of obstetricians and gynecologists throughout the country to determine their opinions on various methods of birth control.
 Headquartered in Raritan, Ortho Pharmaceutical has been an acknowledged leader in contraceptive technology for more than 50 years. Since the mid-1980s, Ortho, through its research arm, the RW Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute, has been the only major U.S. pharmaceutical company conducting significant contraceptive research and development in the United States.
 -0- 10/12/93
 /CONTACT: Clare Castaldo or Lisa Adler of Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation, 908-218-6637/

CO: Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation ST: New Jersey IN: HEA SU:

TW-MP -- NY003 -- 0944 10/12/93 09:01 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 12, 1993

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