An observational study conducted by researchers from the Universities of Aberdeen and Copenhagen suggests a connection between oral contraceptives (OC) and a decreased risk of ovarian cancer. By analyzing data collected over two decades from nearly 1.9 million Danish women with ages between 15 and 49, they estimate that hormonal contraceptives have prevented the occurrence in approximately 21% of cases.
“Based on our results, contemporary combined hormonal contraceptives are still associated with a reduced risk of ovarian cancer in women of reproductive age, with patterns similar to those seen with older combined oral products”, commented authors.
The team examined combined and progestogen-only products, but did not find any significant differences among them. Overall, data showed that women that do not use contraceptive pills are almost twice as likely to develop ovarian cancers, as the incidence rate was 7,5 cases per 100,000 person years, compared to only 3,2 per 100,000 person years with those that do take them.
Women that had been on the pill but stopped also presented a lower risk – “the reduced risk seems to persist after stopping use, although it is not yet known how long for”.
Currently, more than 100 million women worldwide use OCs daily. The pills contain artificial versions of female hormones estrogen and progesterone, offering high and reliable protection (99%) against unwanted pregnancies, but also a number of non-contraceptive benefits, including regulation and reduction of menstrual bleeding, managing migraines, acne and hirsutism.
It is important to note that these findings are not conclusive as all information is observational. Furthermore, the focus of the study was not centered on the group that is generally more exposed to this diagnosis, women aged 65 and above.