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Contraceptives linked to ovarian cancer decline

Tuesday September 6th, 2016

Widespread use of oral contraceptives has helped reduce deaths from ovarian cancer, according to the findings of a major study published today.

The research, using global data, found a sudden decline in death rates - of 10% - from the disease in the decade after 2002.

In the UK the decline was 22% while in the USA the decline was 16%.

Across Europe, Hungary recorded a reduction in death rates of just 0.6% but the large falls were found in Estonia - of 28% - and in Denmark and Sweden - of 24%.

Researcher Professor Carlo La Vecchia, of the University of Milan, Italy, studied data dating back to 1970 for the research, published in the Annals of Oncology.

The researchers say the reduction in the use of hormone replacement therapy after the turn of the century also contributed to the fall in death rates.

He said: "The large variations in death rates between European countries have reduced since the 1990s when there was a threefold variation across Europe from 3.6 per 100,000 in Portugal to 9.3 in Denmark. This is likely to be due to more uniform use of oral contraceptives across the continent, as well as reproductive factors, such as how many children a woman has.

"However, there are still noticeable differences between countries such as Britain, Sweden and Denmark, where more women started to take oral contraceptives earlier – from the 1960s onwards – and countries in Eastern Europe, but also in some other Western and Southern European countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece, where oral contraceptive use started much later and was less widespread.

“This mixed pattern in Europe also helps to explain the difference in the size of the decrease in ovarian cancer deaths between the EU and the USA, as many American women also started to use oral contraceptives earlier."

Global trends and predictions in ovarian cancer mortality Annals of Oncology 6 September 2016; doi:10.1093/annonc/mdw306

Tags: Cancer | Europe | North America | Pharmaceuticals | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology | World Health

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