Lower your Risk of Ovarian Cancer with your Contraceptive

Women on birth control pills know how it protects against ovarian cancer, but a new study has shown that perhaps, any type of contraceptive reduces the risk of ovarian cancer.

Researchers have found that women who used any type of contraception - birth control pills, tubal ligation, intrauterine devices or IUDs, barrier methods like diaphragms or male vasectomy - had about 40 to 65 percent lower risk to develop ovarian cancer.

Dr. Roberta Ness of the University of Texas School of Public Health and her team interviewed 869 women who had developed ovarian cancer, and 1779 others without, about their contraception history. This did not include women who relied on natural family planning like avoiding sex while ovulating or withdrawal.

While birth control pills and even tubal ligation have already been known to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, their results surprisingly showed a similar trend among women who used IUDs, barriers or their partner’s vasectomy.

If we are to refer to the numbers - women who used IUDs or relied on a vasectomy lowered their risks by 50 and 60 percent, respectively, relative to women who relied on natural family planning methods.

Ness suggested that sperm may be the culprit: it’s possible that the sperm itself increases inflammation inside a woman, which could increase her risk of ovarian cancer. So any contraceptive method that reduces the woman’s exposure to sperm could potentially protect them from the inflammation, according to her.

But how about birth control pills? Ness explained that oral contraceptives reduce the number of times a woman ovulates, and since each ovulation is associated with an increase in inflammation, less ovulation means lower risks of ovarian cancer.

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