Yes, that little pill you take every morning protects against unwanted pregnancy AND against cancer.
New research is changing the way women look at the risks that oral contraceptive birth control poses. A recent study indicates that oral birth control pills actually protect women against certain cancers for as long as 30 years.
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 UK 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.
About 16% of women, ages 15-44, 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 contraception method, though they do nothing for cancer prevention.