LONDON - Taking the contraceptive pill for a restricted period of time prevents women from developing cancer, a study published by the "British Medical Journal" reveals.
Contrary to what was first thought, the cancer risk decreases for women using oral contraception for up to 8 years. However, the study run by the Royal College of General Practitioners of Aberdeen (Scotland) shows a relative increase in risk for women taking the pill for more than 8 years.
The results demonstrate a reduction in ovarian, womb and bowel cancers, but a small increase in cervical cancer. "They are not huge reductions but there are 100 million women taking oral contraceptives in the world and that adds up to an important public health benefit," Professor Philip Hannaford of Aberdeen University said.
The pill, introduced in the 1960s, is taken by approximately 3 million women in the UK, and 300 million women are thought to have used oral contraception over the past 40 years.
Dr Clifford Kay, a Manchester GP, started collecting data for the study in 1968. The sample counted 46,000 women aged 29, half of them already taking the pill before the study.
Evidence suggest that the protective effect of the pill lasts for at least 15 years after stopping.
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