Your Birth Control Pill Can Protect You Against Cancer for 30 Years

Jun 6, 2017 at 8:00 a.m. ET
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New research is changing the way women look at the potential risks and benefits that oral contraceptive birth control poses. Specifically, a recent study, led by Dr. Lisa Iversen of the Institute of Applied Health Sciences at Aberdeen and published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, indicates that oral birth control pills can actually protect women against certain cancers for as long as 30 years.

More: We’re one step closer to getting birth control pills without a prescription

The study, which took place in the United Kingdom, looked at 46,000 women and ultimately determined that women who used oral contraceptives had significantly less risk of developing colorectal, ovarian and endometrial cancers. Comparatively, women that never took the pill had a higher risk for such cancers.

Previously, the thought has been that higher (either natural or synthetic) levels of the reproductive hormones progesterone and estrogen are linked to higher cancer risk. While this holds true for the relationship between oral contraceptives and an increased breast cancer risk, this latest U.K. study undermines the school of thinking that hormone levels affect all kinds of cancers in women.

Over 44 years, researchers studied the effects oral birth control pills had on women’s health. While a greater risk of developing both breast and cervical cancers was identified during this research, it was determined that risk decreased within five years of stopping the pill.

More: Can Your Birth Control Pill Help You Fight Iron Deficiency?

About 16 percent of women ages 15 to 44 currently resort to the pill as a form of birth control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among teenagers, condoms are currently the most common contraceptive method.

By Stephanie Osmanski

Originally published on HelloFlo.