And that benefit continues even if you stop taking them…
The Pill isn’t just good for preventing pregnancy and regulating your periods. It turns out that the birth control pill can also drastically cut your risk for certain cancers. A new study found that over the years, oral contraception has prevented 400,000 cases of cancer, Time reports.
The study, published in the journal The Lancet, focused on endometrial cancer, which affects the lining of the uterus. Researchers from the University of Oxford in England reviewed 36 studies, which in total covered more than 27,000 women with endometrial cancer and more than 115,000 women without it.
They found that women who took birth control pills had a lower risk of developing endometrial cancer, and that protection lasted for more than 30 years after they stopped taking the pills. If you take the Pill for five years, it lowers your risk by 24%, and if you take it for 10 or 15 years, your risk is cut in half. The exact reason why the Pill prevents this cancer is unknown, but it may have to do with regulating how much estrogen your body produces.
In the past 10 years, the researchers estimate that 200,000 cases of endometrial cancer have been prevented. And overall, 400,000 cases have been averted thanks to the Pill. And even though hormone levels are lower in modern birth control pills, the Pill’s cancer-fighting powers are as strong as ever.
Taking the Pill still carries potential risks like blood clots and possibly other cancers, USA Today notes. But those risks are low, especially for young and otherwise healthy women. If you’re worried about your risk levels, talk to your doctor about your birth control options.
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