|| DukeMedNews || Using Birth Control Pills to Reduce the Risk of Cancer

Suggested lead: Evidence continues to show that birth control pills reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. Tom Britt has more.

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Ovarian cancer strikes between 25,000 and 30,000 women each year. There are no accurate tests to detect ovarian cancer, and therefore it is usually found too late for effective treatment. Because of this, a lot of research focuses on how to prevent the disease. And most of that research points to birth control pills as the most effective means of reducing the risk of developing ovarian cancer. Dr. Andrew Berchuk of Duke University Medical Center specializes in the research and treatment of ovarian cancer. He’s been looking at something called the “P-53 tumor suppressor gene.”

“We found that women who had the highest levels of exposure to ovulation over a lifetime because of having fewer children and not having used birth control pills, more frequently had ovarian cancers with P-53 mutations.”

Berchuk says a woman who has had three children reduces her chances of ovarian cancer by 50 percent. So does a woman who uses birth control pills for five years. Those most likely to contract ovarian cancer are women who have never had children and have never taken birth control pills. I’m Tom Britt.

Berchuk says most women are not aware that birth control pills can drastically reduce their risk of ovarian cancer.

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“After one year of use, a woman decreases her risk by about 10 to 15 percent, and in fact, women who use the pill for greater than ten years probably reduce their risk of ovarian cancer by greater than 60 percent.”