Contraceptives causing cancer has always been a grey area amongst medical communities and media: does using birth control pills lead to cancer? It’s been decades since oral contraceptives were first developed, and the research studies are still split.
Some suggest that the hormones in the pill increase a woman’s risk of developing certain cancers…while others believe the opposite, or having zero effect. Even the National Cancer Institute lacks a clear answer, saying that studies on the matter “have not always been consistent.”
A new study has finally settled the debate – sort of.
At least one type of cancer is prevented from using contraceptives: endometrial cancer, which grows in the lining of the uterus and usually affects women after menopause. It’s the most common form of gynecologic cancer in the U.S., killing over 76,000 people worldwide a few years ago.
Researchers from the Collaborative Group on Epidemiological Studies on Endometrial Cancer looked at more than 27,000 cases of endometrial cancer, and more than 115,000 control cases in 36 studies around the world.
They found women taking contraceptives showed a long-term decrease in endometrial cancer risk, regardless of factors like smoking or ethnicity. The protective effects even carried over decades after women stopped taking the pill.
Oral contraceptives are one of the most popular prescription drugs in the world, with over 10 million women in the US alone using them. Any new information, like the in-depth analysis from this study, therefore has major implications worldwide.