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STUDY: Use of hormonal contraceptives for long periods of time may increase the risk of cervical cancer
AUTHORS: Amy Berrington
ABSTRACT: Women who take the birth control pill could be increasing their risk of cervical cancer.
COMMENTARY: 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.
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 are good.
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.