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Birth Control Pill Could Fight Cancer, Heart Disease

March 12, 2010

According to a new study, published on the British Medical Journal website Thursday, women who have taken an oral contraceptive pill are less likely to experience fatal health problems.

The Royal College of General Practitioners’ (RCGP) Oral Contraception Study, which was led by University of Aberdeen professor Philip Hannaford, followed 46,000 women for 40 years.

According to a March 11 press release, “The results show that in the longer term, women who used oral contraception had a significantly lower rate of death from any cause, including heart disease and all cancers (notably bowel, uterine body and ovarian cancers)” compared to those who had never used the birth control pill.

“We have known for a while that whilst women use the pill they have a small excess risk of disease but that seems to wear off,” Hannaford told BBC Scotland. “What we have never known is, what are the really long-term effects? This study, after following up a large group of women for 39 years, has shown there is no increased risk among women who have used the pill, in fact there is a small 12-percent drop.”

According to the study, younger women were more at-risk that older women. Those under 30 years of age experienced 20 more deaths per 100,000, while 30-39 year olds experienced four additional deaths. However, women aged 40-49 years of age experienced 14 fewer deaths per 100,000, while that number jumped to 86 fewer deaths for 50-59 year olds, 122 fewer for 60-69 year olds, and 308 fewer for females over 70 years old.

These most recent findings contrast earlier ones from the RCGP Oral Contraception Study, which had reported that use of birth control pills could result in an increased risk of stroke or cardio-vascular disease, particularly among smokers and older females.

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