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Use of oral contraceptives linked to a lower risk of ovarian cancer.

While research has previously pointed to a link between oral contraceptive use and lowered risk for ovarian cancer, a recent study found the risk remains lower even years after women stop taking the pill.

Published Jan. 26 in the Lancet, the study found that the longer women used oral contraceptives, the greater the reduction in ovarian cancer risk. The lowered risk lasted for more than 30 years after the women stopped taking the oral contraceptives.

The study's authors said oral contraceptive use has already prevented 200,000 cases of ovarian cancer and 100,000 deaths worldwide since the pill was introduced almost 50 years ago. They predict oral contraceptive use will prevent 30,000 yearly cases of ovarian cancer.

"The number of cancers prevented each year is likely to increase substantially in the future with the further aging of past users of oral contraceptives and the increasing number of new users, especially in middle-income and lowincome countries," the study authors wrote.

The study was based on an analysis of 45 ovarian cancer studies involving about 23,200 women with the disease and about 87,300 who did not have cancer. Researchers found that women who took oral contraceptives reduced their risk for ovarian cancer from 12 per 1,000 women to eight per 1,000 women. The risk for death from the disease dropped from seven per 1,000 women to five per 1,000 women for those who took the pill.

While oral contraceptive use slightly raises the risk of cervical and breast cancers, that increased risk goes away when women go off the medication, but the protection against ovarian cancer is longlasting, the study found.
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Title Annotation:Cancer prevention
Author:Arias, Donya C.
Publication:The Nation's Health
Date:Mar 1, 2008
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