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Oral contraceptives reduce gynaecological cancer risk

Oral contraception appears overall to reduce the risk of gynaecological cancers, results from a large 25-year study show.

The results from a prospective study of 17,000 women should help GPs accurately inform patients on the long-term effects of taking oral contraceptives.

For cancers of the cervix, uterus and ovary combined, the risk among users of oral contraception was 30 per cent lower than among non-users, the Oxford fpa study showed.

The research, published online by the British Journal of Cancer, found a four-fold increased risk of cervical cancer in women who used oral contraceptives, but this was outweighed by reductions in the risk of cancers of the uterus and ovary.

Study leader Professor Martin Vessey, professor of public health and primary care at the University of Oxford, said: 'The results are of particular importance because they are derived from considerable quantities of information about long-term use.'

A second study of 700 women attempting to become pregnant after stopping use of the combined contraceptive pill has also provided reassuring results.

The study, published in Fertility and Sterility, showed a slight delay in regaining fertility in the first three cycles after cessation of oral contraception but then rates of conception returned to normal.

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