The Pill and Cervical Cancer

Unprotected sex and cervical cancer

WOMEN who take the contraceptive pill may increase their risk of cervical cancer, according to a major study published in the Lancet. 

In the study, commissioned by the World Health Organisation, researchers combined the data from 28 studies, involving 12,500 women with cervical cancer from a number of countries including the UK and USA.

Open quotesThe longer women use the pill the greater their risk of 
                                        developing cervical cancer
Close quotes

Researchers found that the longer women used the pill the greater their risk of developing cervical cancer. The effect remained even when other risk factors for the disease such as infection with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) were taken into account.

Go to: Cervical cancer overview: symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment alternatives

Cancer Research UK experts stress that further research is needed to determine whether the risk of cervical cancer drops after women stop using the pill, before implications for public health can be fully understood. They also emphasise the importance of regular cervical screening for all women, whether or not they use the pill.

Researchers found that women who used the pill for five years or less had a 10 per cent increased risk of cervical cancer when compared with women who had never taken it. This increased risk rose to 60 per cent with five to nine years of use and doubled with 10 years of use or over.

A similar pattern of increased risk was seen when researchers took into account other factors which could influence cervical cancer risk, such as whether the women smoked, their number of sexual partners, whether they had previously attended cervical cancer screening and whether they used barrier methods of contraception.

Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist and a Founder of CANCERactive said, "In the USA, approximately 6 million women are infected every year with HPV, yet only 13,000 women contract cervical cancer. There are approximately 3,500 deaths. The precursor to cervical cancer is most usually CIN - cervical intraepithelial neoplasia - abnormal cells that can be treated by techniques such as ablation.

Of course, not all cervical cancer is HPV related; and cervical cancer is not the only cancer linked to HPV. Throat cancer and anal cancers are growing in prominence. The precursor to anal cancer, linked to HPV can be AIN - anal intraepithelial neoplasia. The biggest growth area for this is in homosexual males.

The issue is to realise that in the vast majority of HPV infection never leads to cancer. The deciding force seems to be a strong immune system. And there are also a number of natural compounds that seem capable of eradicating the virus before it causes its worst. These include elegiac acid, graviola, curcumin, artemisinin, EGCG, daphnoretin and pau d’arco. Combinations of these seem to get better results that each on its own."

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