The “Pill” Against Cancer – A Clearer Perspective
The contraceptive pill has enjoyed a fair share of controversy since its inception nearly 40 years ago. The most important being the long-term outcome and effect on gynaecological cancers. You are dealing with tiny percentages and require a lot of information to arrive at any nearly acceptable conclusions as changes in presentation of all these cancers may be due to other natural occurring factors such as pollution and the exposure to endocrine disruptors. In the case of cervical cancer sexually more active women may be at a higher risk when taking the pill (presumably because more unprotected sex with more sexual partners equals more exposure to the genital wart virus). The recently discovered vaccination against this virus should improve this risk significantly.
The questions to consider is how long do I have to take the pill before the risk for cancer increases or decreases. Does the risk/benefit remain after stopping the pill?
– You may have a small but significant increased risk of breast cancer while taking the pill, especially younger woman who’ve yet to start a family or with a family history of breast cancer. This risk reduces when you stop taking the pill.
– The combined contraceptive pill (oestrogen and progesterone) protects you against ovarian cancer. The longer you take it the lower your risk.
– You are also protected against uterine cancer by half the normal risk which lasts for at least 15 years after stop taking the pill (the progesterone is helping).
The most serious side effects associated with the pill are the greater chance of blood clots, stroke and heart attacks. These problems occur in women who smoke, are over 35 and have other health problems such as hypertension, diabetes, heart or vascular disease or high cholesterol and triglycerides. They should consider other forms of contraception method.
Adam Engelbrecht (MBChB)
Read more about a variety of women’s gynecological conditions. Expect an open and balanced discussion/approach to common female medical and general health conditions.