| Pill Use May Raise Cervical Cancer
Women who take the birth
control pill could be increasing their risk of cervical cancer,
scientists warned on Friday.
A review of research by scientists
from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in
Lyon, France and the London-based charity Cancer Research UK shows
that the longer women use the pill the greater their chances of
developing the disease.
Women who used the pill five years
or less had a 10 percent increased risk. Up to nine years pushed
it up to 60 percent and a decade or more doubled the risk compared
to women who have never taken the Pill.
"This study shows that the use
of hormonal contraceptives for long periods of time may increase
the risk of cervical cancer," said Dr. Amy Berrington, of Cancer
Research UK's unit at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford.
But she added that more research
is needed to determine if the risk drops after women stop taking
birth control pills.
"The small amount of evidence that
was available suggests it might do but we really want to look
at this in more detail. That is the next step," Berrington added
in a telephone interview.
The researchers hope to have more
information about the impact of stopping sometime next year.
Cervical cancer is the second most
common cancer in women worldwide with more than 470,000 new cases
each year. If it is diagnosed and treated early survival rates
The sexually transmitted human
papillomavirus (HPV) is linked to the majority of cervical cancer
cases. An earlier study found that long-term use of the Pill could
quadruple the risk of the cancer in women with HPV.
Berrington said the latest analysis,
which was commissioned by the World Health Organization and is
reported in The Lancet medical journal, shows a raised risk of
cervical cancer regardless of whether a woman has the virus.
Previous research had also shown
the Pill may increase the risk of breast cancer but could lower
the chances of ovarian cancer.
The researchers did not have information
about the type or brand of birth control pills used by the 12,500
women with cervical cancer in the 28 studies analyzed.
German drugmaker Schering AG is
the world's largest producer of birth control pills.
"If you look at the whole range
of cancers, oral contraceptives are still beneficial since we
know they provide protection against ovarian and some other cancers,"
said Schering spokeswoman Astrid Forster in Berlin.
The charity FPA, Family Planning
Association, said the findings contribute to the understanding
of the role oral contraceptives may play in the development of
"The Pill is highly effective in
preventing pregnancy and reduces the risk of both cancer of the
ovaries and womb. The benefits of using the Pill greatly outweigh
the risk for the vast majority of women," its chief executive,
Anne Weyman, said in a statement.
Berrington emphasized the importance
of regular screening to detect early signs of the disease and
said women concerned about the findings should talk to their doctor.
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