Cervical Cancer Rates Higher among Users of the Pill

Nutrition Health Review, Fall 1989 | Go to article overview

Cervical Cancer Rates Higher among Users of the Pill


Cervical Cancer Rates Higher Among Users of the Pill

In a recent British study, oral contraceptive (O.C.) users had a higher rate of cervical cancers, and that association increased with the length of use. The research team, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Royal College of General Practitioners (R.C.G.P.) Manchester Research Unit, studied the incidence of cancer of the cervix and carcinoma in situ -- a very early stage of cervical cancer -- among 47,000 women in England, who had been followed from 1968 to 1987.

The women were part of the R.C.G.P.'s Oral Contraception study, which reports on the deaths and side effects of women on birth control pills. The researchers found that O.C. use was associated with an excess of eight cervical cancers and 41 carcinoma in situ per 100,000 women. In addition, the incidence of cervical cancer was four times higher among women who had taken O.C.s for more than 10 years than among the so-called "never-users."

Finally, the incidence of other uterine cancers and ovarian cancer was higher in the never-users, confirming "other published data that women who have used oral contraceptives have a higher incidence of cervical cancer and a lower incidence of endometrial (lining of the uterus) and ovarian cancer than women who have never used oral contraceptives," the researchers wrote.

Since invasive cervical cancer can be prevented, they urged that "special attention should be given to its early detection" among women who use O.C.s. Although their data suggested that screening with Pap smears, which detect 90% of early cervical changes, "may not be as effective" in O. …

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Cervical Cancer Rates Higher among Users of the Pill
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