Tuesday, January 29, 2008

One More Reason to Love the Pill

Talk about great news: this week a study came out that shows the birth control pill protects against ovarian cancer even decades after use stops. Check it out:

The researchers found that the protection against ovarian cancer lasted for more than 30 years after women had stopped taking the Pill. They also found that the longer the Pill was used the greater the protection and that taking the Pill for 15 years halved the risk of ovarian cancer.

Researchers estimated that, in high income countries, using oral contraceptives for ten years reduces the risk of developing ovarian cancer before the age of 75 from 12 down to 8 per 1000 women, and reduces the risk of death from ovarian cancer before age 75 from 7 down to 5 per 1000 women.

[ . . .]

Lead author Professor Valerie Beral, director of the Cancer Research UK Epidemiology Unit at Oxford University, said: ‘Worldwide, the Pill has already prevented 200,000 women from developing cancer of the ovary and has prevented 100,000 deaths from the disease. More than 100 million women are now taking the Pill, so the number of ovarian cancers prevented will rise over the next few decades to about 30,000 per year.’

Of course, taking birth control pills shouldn't be all about the lowered risk of ovarian cancer. They do have their own side-effects and health risks. For example, some women who take the pill experience irregular bleeding or nausea and pill will increase the risk of blood clots, heart attacks and strokes for women who smoke. There is also some evidence that the pill may cause a slight increase in the risk of liver and cervical cancer. The good news from researchers is that any negative effects of the pill are significantly outweighed by the reduced risk of ovarian cancer. After all, it is one of the most dangerous of all cancers.

But there are many other birth control options. The pill isn't for everyone, and some women just need to try different kinds of pills to find the right one. Additional birth control options include the patch, the nuvaring, the shot (Depo-Provera), and the condom. No two people are exactly the same, but there's a method that's right for everyone -- and your doctor or local Planned Parenthood can help you find yours.

For those who are on the pill, used to take the pill or plan on taking it someday, this is just one more thing to love! Other positive benefits of the pill can include lighter periods, reduced acne, and of course, great protection against pregnancy. And now we know that it causes a decreased cancer risk, too? We'll take it!

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