The combined oral contraceptive pill was one of the biggest advancement for women’s health in the 20th century and, if you ever took the pill, it may still be providing you with a life-saving health benefit.
Over 50 years, the pill has prevented 400,000 cases of endometrial cancer according to new study by the University of Oxford. But wait, there’s more!
The study, which examined the health records of 27,276 women with endometrial (uterine) cancer and 115,743 women without, found that every five years of using the pill lowered the risk of endometrial cancer by around a quarter. And the longer the women used oral contraceptives, the greater their risk declined. Women who took the pill for more than ten years also cut their risk of ovarian cancer by half.
Interestingly, the reduced risk of cancer continued for more than 30 years after the women stopped using oral contraceptives, suggesting the protective effect of the pill is prolonged.
Endometrial, or uterine, cancer typically begins in the inner lining of the womb, called the endometrium, and is usually heralded by abnormal vaginal bleeding.
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The scientists aren’t quite sure how the pill protects against womb cancer, but speculate it has something to do with the reduced level of natural oestrogen in body during menstruation, which can fuel cell growth.
Researchers note that although hormone levels in birth control pills have decreased, with pills in the 1960s containing more than double the level of oestrogen than pills in the 1980s, the level of protection stayed the same even in lower doses.
The pill changed our lives in so many ways. Tell us, how did it change your life?