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New research offers encouraging news for birth control users

New research has encouraging news for women who use birth control pills. Birth control pills work by altering a woman's natural hormone cycle, and for years doctors have wondered whether these biological changes could affect women's cancer risk. Now results from one of the largest studies ever done on the subject find the pills may actually reduce the chances of cancer. In 1968 researchers began a study on 46,000 women from the United Kingdom -- half of whom used birth control pills and half of whom had never taken them. Doctors examined health reports from the women's doctors and cancer cases included in a national registry, compiling around 45 years of information on the women's health. They found that women taking birth control pills had a 12 percent lower risk of cancer. Pill users had particularly strong reductions in the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer. However, women taking the pill for 8 or more years had a 22 percent increase in their overall odds of cancer -- but the risk for ovarian and uterine cancers still remained lower, no matter how many years women used oral contraceptives.

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