A new research has found that taking the contraceptive pill could actually reduce a woman's risk of contracting cancer by up to 12 percent.
However, the study, from the University of Aberdeen also claims that women who use the pill for more than eight years are more likely to suffer from certain types of cancer affecting the cervix and central nervous system.
AdvertisementIn addition, the researchers suggest that women who take the pill can enjoy the health benefits for up to 15 years after they stop taking the contraceptive.
Although several studies have looked at the overall balance of cancer deaths associated with oral contraceptives, none have so far examined the absolute risks or benefits.
Researchers analysed data spanning a 36 year period from the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Oral Contraception Study which began in 1968. The study recruited 46,000 women, with an average age of 29 amongst whom almost half were using oral contraceptives; the other half had never taken it.
Researchers arrived at their findings by analysing data given to GPs by women involved in the study at six month intervals, reports the BMJ.
These figures direct from GPs revealed a three per cent drop in cancer rates among women who used the pill. But a larger-scale set of data drawn from NHS registries showed women who took the pill were at a 12 per cent decreased risk of cancer.
In the main dataset women on the pill had statistically significant lower rates of large bowel/rectal, uterine body and ovarian cancer. The GP dataset also showed a reduced risk of uterine and ovarian cancer.
The authors say that many women, especially those who used the first generation of oral contraceptives many years ago, are likely to find the results reassuring.
"In this UK cohort oral contraception was not associated with an overall increased risk of any cancer, indeed it may even produce a net public health gain," the authors write.
The findings of the study are published on the British Medical Journal's website.