09:42:26pm | 28-Sep-2018 | 980 | 79


A new, large-scale study published in The BMJ suggests that newer birth control pills can significantly reduce the risk of ovarian cancer among young women.

birth control pills

Newer birth control pills may keep ovarian cancer at bay, reports new research.

In the United States, ovarian cancer has the highest mortality rate of all gynecologic cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


In 2014, for instance, over 21,000 new cases of ovarian cancer occurred, at least 14,000 of which resulted in death.


Previous research has suggested that combined oral contraceptives — that is, birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progestogen — may lower the risk of ovarian cancer in women of reproductive age.


Moreover, these beneficial effects lasted for years after the women discontinued them, noted the studies.


However, these past results applied to older contraceptives that had higher amounts of estrogen and contained older forms of progestogen. Little was known about the effects of newer pills.


New research aimed to fill this knowledge gap by studying the effects of newer birth control pills on the risk of ovarian cancer.


Lisa Iversen, a research fellow with the Institute of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom, led the new study. She is also the corresponding author of the paper.



Studying contraceptives and ovarian cancer

Iversen and colleagues examined data available on almost 1.9 million Danish women who were between 15 and 49 years old.


The researchers looked at several Danish national databases and investigated the effect of both combined and progestogen-only hormonal contraceptives.


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The women were grouped into "never users" — that is, women who had not been prescribed any hormonal contraception — "current or recent users" — describing women who were either taking birth control pills or had stopped taking them up to 1 year prior — and, finally, "former users" — that is, women who had discontinued use more than 1 year prior to the study.


Approximately 86 percent of the oral contraceptives that the women used were combined pills.


The researchers accounted for factors such as the women's age and the number of times they had been pregnant; they also applied the so-called Poisson regression model to statistically analyze the risk of ovarian cancer among the different groups.