September 8, 2015 – Oral Contraceptives and Endometrial Cancer


Anchor lead:  Taking oral contraceptives may reduce a woman’s risk of endometrial cancer, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Oral contraceptive use is associated with a reduced risk for endometrial cancer, or cancer of the lining of the uterus, a very large study recently reported in the Lancet found.  Women who took oral contraceptives experienced this reduced risk whether high or low dose pills were taken.  William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, interprets the findings.

Nelson: It did make a difference how long the women took them.  Five years or more the risk reduction was almost one-quarter lower to get uterus cancers, and that protection persisted for a very long time. Oral contraceptive pills appear, when used at a young age, not for the purpose of preventing uterus cancer but for other purposes, seem to result in a long lasting benefit in protection from uterus cancer.  :26

Women generally took the medication in their twenties and thirties, while the reduced risk was seen in those sixty and older. Nelson says the mechanism remains unknown.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.