Millions of women have benefited from the effective contraception offered by the Pill over the last 30 years. There has always been concern as to whether giving a woman artificial hormones has a damaging effect on her health.
Recently, a major international study examined evidence to see if there is any increase in risk of breast cancer associated with use of the combined oral contraceptive pil. It found that there is a slightly increased risk in women who are currently using combined oral contraceptives or have used them in the past ten years. The increased risk disappears ten years after stopping the Pill. The cancers diagnosed were more likely to be confined to the breast, not spread to other tissues, and so easier to treat.
Breast cancer is still comparatively rare in women young enough to need contraception, but Pill users would be wise to remember to check their breasts every month, preferably after their period.
The Pill also decreases the risk of cancer of the ovary and of the lining of the womb. As with so many cancers, smoking can increase the risk.