A retrospective study by the University of Uppsala, published in the journal Cancer Research, includes data on 250,000 women. Scientists compared the incidence of ovarian, endometrial and breast cancers in patients who took birth control pills at different times in their lives with those who chose other methods of contraception.
The results showed that in women taking oral contraceptives, ovarian and endometrial cancer was diagnosed twice less often within 15 years after the pill was discontinued compared with patients from the control group. It is noteworthy that the likelihood of developing these types of cancer remained reduced even 30-35 years after women stopped taking pills.
Scientists also confirmed the findings of previous studies that taking birth control pills may increase the risk of breast cancer, but they assessed this as low. Moreover, the analysis of these patients showed that the risk of developing this type of cancer significantly decreased within several years after drug withdrawal to the level of the control group.
“Our results showed that the lifetime risk of breast cancer did not differ between the groups of women who took oral contraceptives with those who never took them,” the authors reported.
Earlier, a group of scientists from Canada and the UK warned of a possible side effect of birth control pills: in women who started taking them at a young age, the stress response is dulled. In addition, taking these drugs during adolescence increases the activation of the prefrontal cortex during processing of negative stimuli by working memory, such as images of car accidents.
“Women who started using oral contraceptives during puberty or adolescence also experience different brain activity during neutral image processing in working memory compared to women who started using them later in life,” the study authors said.