New Generations Of Hormonal Contraceptives Protect Against Ovarian Cancer

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New Generations Of Hormonal Contraceptives Protect Against Ovarian Cancer
New Generations Of Hormonal Contraceptives Protect Against Ovarian Cancer

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New generations of hormonal contraceptives protect against ovarian cancer

The use of modern combined oral contraceptives (COCs) containing low doses of estrogen and new generation progestins reduces the risk of ovarian cancer in young women.

New generations of hormonal contraceptives protect against ovarian cancer
New generations of hormonal contraceptives protect against ovarian cancer

Photo: pixabay.com /

The use of modern combined oral contraceptives (COCs) containing low doses of estrogen and new generation progestins reduces the risk of ovarian cancer in young women, according to a study published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal).

At least 100 million women worldwide use hormonal contraception every day. Previous studies have already shown a decrease in the likelihood of developing ovarian cancer in women taking older-generation COCs that contained higher doses of estrogen and earlier-generation progestins.

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, have studied the effect of new hormonal contraceptives (both combined and progestin-only) on common and specific types of ovarian cancer in women of reproductive age. The majority (86%) of hormonal contraceptives were COCs.

Using the national system for prescribing and registering cancer patients, the scientists analyzed data from nearly 1.9 million Danish women aged 15-49 between 1995 and 2014. They identified the following categories of women:

never used (no data on the issue of hormonal contraception),

  • use currently or recently (up to a year after discontinuation),
  • used before (over a year ago).

After adjusting for a number of factors, including age and childbirth, the researchers found that the highest incidence of ovarian cancer was among women who had never used hormonal contraception, at 7.5 per 100,000 people per year. With the use of hormonal contraceptives ever, the incidence of ovarian cancer was 3.2 per 100,000 people per year.

The researchers estimate that hormonal contraception prevented approximately 21% of ovarian cancer in this group of women. The lowest rates were observed in women who used COCs for a long period of time. In addition, this beneficial effect persisted after discontinuation.

Thus, contraceptives containing estrogen may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, even years after stopping use.

With regard to progestin-only contraceptives, no similar effect was found. Although previous research has shown similar benefits to progestin-only contraceptive methods. Scientists believe that this is due to the small size of the group and, accordingly, insufficient data.

The study was observational, so no definitive conclusions about the causes and effects can be made, but they do support the results of studies with older drugs. In addition, older women have not been studied, although most cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed in adulthood. However, the study was extensive, with a long follow-up period, which made it possible to adapt to a number of potentially important factors.

“Based on our results, modern combination hormonal contraceptives are still associated with a reduced risk of ovarian cancer in women of reproductive age, similar to those seen with older oral combination products,” the study authors argue.

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