Long Term Pill Use and Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer among women in many developing countries. The overall lifetime risk is about 5% in parts of Africa, India, and Latin America, compared with 1% in Europe and North America. Yet HPV infection is extremely common throughout the world. In the United Kingdom the virus is present in perhaps a third of all women in their twenties.
According to the National Cancer Institute US, women who have used oral contraceptives for 5 or more years have a higher risk of cervical cancer than women who have never used oral contraceptives. The longer a woman uses oral contraceptives, the greater the increase in her risk of cervical cancer.
A study carried out by the World Health Organization in 2002 has produced the first compelling evidence of a long suspected link between the contraceptive pill and cervical cancer. The research, carried out by the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer, found that prolonged use of the oral contraceptive pill increased the risk of cervical cancer up to fourfold, but only in women who carry the human papillomavirus (HPV).
In a large analysis by National Library of Medicine, researchers reviewed the data for over 52,000 women on the link between oral contraceptives and cervical cancer risk. Analysis of the literature showed that current oral contraceptive use was associated with an increased risk of invasive cervical cancer.
The findings from the above showed very similar results. The results suggest risk was found to increase over time, with a higher risk being found in those who had been taking the pill for 5 years.
Fortunately, cervical cancer risk declined after stopping the pill — and after 10 years of non-use, this increased risk was non-existent.