An analysis has found that using oral contraceptives for even a few years can give long-term protection against endometrial cancer, showing greater risk reduction with longer use. Findings from the study are published in The Lancet Oncology.
Over the past 50 years (1965–2014), researchers estimate that about 400,000 cases of endometrial cancer have been prevented by oral contraceptive use in high-income countries with about 200,000 from 2005–2014 alone. Study authors from the Collaborative Group on Epidemiological Studies on Endometrial Cancer analyzed data on 27,276 women with endometrial cancer across 36 studies.
They found that every five years of oral contraceptive use lowered the risk of endometrial cancer by about a quarter. Ten years of oral contraceptive use was found to lower the risk of developing endometrial cancer before the age of 75 from 2.3 to 1.3 cases per 100 users. Specifically, the risk reduction was at least as great for women who took the pill during the 1980s as for women who took it in earlier decades. This shows that the hormone content in the lower-dose pills is still enough to reduce the incidence of endometrial cancer. Study authors added that the proportional risk reduction did not change substantially with women’s reproductive history, adiposity, alcohol use, tobacco use, or ethnicity.
Women who use oral contraceptives in their 20s or younger may see the protective benefits continue into their 50s and older even after stopping the pill, they concluded.
For more information visit TheLancet.com.