A new study found that women who took oral contraceptives slashed their risk of endometrial cancer by a quarter. Additionally the study found that the protection lasted up to 30 years after the women quit taking the pill.
These findings mean that women who take the Pill when they are in their 20s or even younger continue to benefit into their 50s and older, when cancer becomes more common.
How hormones affect a woman’s risk of cancer is a controversial subject. Previous research has linked the Pill to a greater risk for breast, cervical, and liver cancer but other studies have shown that the Pill decreases the risk of uterine and cervical cancers.
Endometrial cancer forms in the inner lining of the uterus. According to the American Cancer Society, it affects about two in every 100 women.
Although it may not be the most common cancer, it is one of the most deadly. It kills one in five women who are diagnosed with it. The cancer generally doesn’t appear until later in life, but the cancer’s foundation is laid during childbearing years when the endometrial lining is consistently being built and shed with every monthly cycle.
Researchers aren’t sure exactly how the pills protect women, but they believe it has something to do with how many period a woman has throughout her life.
This research makes sense given the known risk factors for the disease which include early onset of menstruation, never having given birth, late menopause, and taking estrogen therapy. All of these risk factors increase the number of cycles a woman has over her lifetime. Other risk factors include obesity and a history of polycystic ovarian syndrome.