Pill promises 'long, healthy life' for women
Published 12/03/2010 | 05:00
WOMEN who have ever taken the Pill can expect longer lives than those who have never been prescribed the oral contraceptive, research suggests.
Pill-takers are less likely to die from any cause -- including all types of cancer -- and heart disease, a study found.
However, the effects may only be true for women who have taken older-style Pills rather than those on newer-type drugs.
The results of the study on more than 46,000 women, published online in the 'British Medical Journal', revealed a slightly higher risk of dying among under-45s who had stopped using the Pill five to nine years previously.
However, this risk diminished as women got older and was not the case in those with more distant use.
The effects in younger women were also mainly seen in those who smoked, had high blood pressure or were otherwise at risk of heart disease.
Furthermore, the benefits in older women outweighed the smaller excess risks among younger women.
The results are from the Royal College of GPs Oral Contraception Study, one of the world's largest investigations into the health effects of the Pill.
Early reports from the research had suggested an increased risk of dying, particularly among older women or smokers. The latest study found "a significantly lower rate of death from any cause" among women who had ever taken the Pill.
"They also had significantly lower rates of death from all cancers; large bowel/rectum, uterine body, and ovarian cancer; main gynaecological cancers combined; all circulatory disease; ischaemic heart disease, and all other diseases," the study said.
The researchers said women should have their minds put at ease by the study: "Many women, especially those who used the first generation of oral contraceptives many years ago, are likely to be reassured by our results."
Professor Philip Hannaford of the University of Aberdeen, who led the research, said: "Our best estimate is that if you took a group of 100,000 women and they used the Pill for a year, on average you would have 52 fewer deaths in those women compared to those using other forms of contraception."