Fall in ovarian cancer deaths worldwide linked to contraceptive pill use

A new study has found that the hormonal contraceptive pill can protect women from ovarian cancer when they grow older, but taking hormones to alleviate the symptoms of the menopause carries a risk

6 September 2016, 8:37am
Deaths from ovarian cancer have fallen around the world, largely because of the widespread use of the contraceptive pill
Deaths from ovarian cancer have fallen around the world, largely because of the widespread use of the contraceptive pill
Deaths from ovarian cancer have fallen around the world, largely because of the widespread use of the contraceptive pill, according to a major new study.

The study, which was carried out by Italian academics and was published in leading cancer journal Annals of Oncology, said that another factor is the decline in long-term use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

While taking the hormonal contraceptive pill for five years or so protects women from ovarian cancer when they grow older, taking hormones in middle-age to alleviate the symptoms of the menopause carries a risk.

The drop in women using HRT for periods of 10 years or more, following revelations concerning risk of both breast and ovarian cancer and heart disease in 2002, is thought to be a factor behind the fall in deaths.

Using data on deaths from ovarian cancer from 1970 to the most recent available year from the World Health Organisation, the researchers found that in the 28 countries of the EU (minus Cyprus due to the unavailability of data) death rates decreased by 10% between 2002 and 2012, from an age standardised death rate per 100,000 women of 5.76 to 5.19.