In a new study, researchers found women who take oral contraceptives regularly have a lower risk of ovarian cancer.
This is the first study that reports the benefits of oral contraceptives in preventing the most aggressive and fatal subtypes of ovarian cancer.
The research was conducted by a team from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the University at Buffalo.
According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.
This cancer mainly occurs in older women. About half of the women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are 63 years or older.
In the study, the team analyzed data from the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC).
They aimed to examine if any links between oral contraceptives and the risk of highly fatal ovarian cancer.
They looked at data from 579 women who died within 12 months of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer and data from 2,279 women who did not have ovarian cancer.
The researchers found that any history of using oral contraceptives was linked to a 46% reduction in the risk of death within 12 months of diagnosis.
They found that the longer the history of oral contraceptive use, the greater the protection in terms of reduced death risk in aggressive ovarian cancer.
For every five years of use of oral contraceptives, there was a 32% lower risk of highly fatal disease.
This association was found most protective of highly fatal endometrioid ovarian cancers.
This is the first large, multi-center study to examine the link between oral contraceptive use and risk of highly fatal ovarian cancer.
Future work needs to examine the mechanisms behind this association and identify specific groups of people who may benefit most from this chemopreventive strategy.
The leader of the study is Kirsten Moysich, Ph.D., MS, Distinguished Professor of Oncology in the Departments of Cancer Prevention and Control and Immunology at Roswell Park.
The study was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2019.
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