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Thursday 27th October 2016

UK deaths 'stopped by pill'

25th January 2008

Over the past 50 years, the contraceptive pill has prevented at least 100,000 deaths from ovarian cancer, according to a major research project.

The findings come from an Oxford University team and are based on analysis of 45 previous studies.

Writing in The Lancet, the team also said that the rising popularity of the pill meant that 30,000 new cases will soon be avoided each year.

Links between lower rates of ovarian cancer and the oral contraceptive pill are well established but the new study marks a detailed attempt to assess how effective it is over a woman’s lifetime.

The team suggested that protection against cancer can continue decades after a woman has stopped taking the pill, though there remain fears about short-term increases in the risk of breast and cervical cancer.

However researcher Sir Richard Peto said: “The eventual reduction in ovarian cancer is bigger than any increase in other types of cancer caused by the pill.?

Cancer Research UK said all women who have taken the pill, or are currently taking it, should be reassured by the study and The Lancet editor Richard Horton said the new evidence was a compelling reason to make it easier to obtain the pill.

“We strongly endorse more widespread over-the-counter access to a preventive agent that can not only prevent cancers but also demonstrably save the lives of tens of thousands of women,? he said.

However, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has said there were no plans to make it available over the counter.


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