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Birth Control Pill Reduces Risk of Heart Disease, Stroke, Some Cancers

A major federal study involving 162,000 women showed that women who use oral contraceptives have a decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and high cholesterol. Researchers at Wayne State University used the data gathered by the Women’s Health Initiative, the largest women’s health study ever conducted, to look at the impact on women’s health of taking oral contraceptives. Women who use birth control pills for four years or more have a 13 percent lower risk developing any form of cancer, a 42 percent lower risk for ovarian cancer, and a 30 percent lower risk of developing uterine cancer, according to the Associated Press. However, even women who took birth control pills for less than four years saw a reduced risk of developing these cancers and heart conditions. The researchers also found that women who use birth control pills have no increased risk of breast cancer. Overall, “there’s an 8 percent risk reduction of ever having cardiovascular disease” among women who have ever used birth control pills, said Dr. Rahi Victory of Wayne State University, the lead researcher in the study, AP reports. “If you use contraceptives early on, you’re probably going to be protected later in life,” Dr. Victory continued. This massive study lays to rest smaller studies that were split on whether oral contraceptive use carries similar increased risk, according to the Los Angeles Times. DONATE to the Feminist Majority Foundation and support our work on women’s health

Sources:

Associated Press 10/21/04; LA Times 10/21/04; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 10/21/04