term use of the contraceptive pill could contribute to a woman's
risk of developing cervical cancer, researchers suggest.
papillomavirus (HPV) is known to be the cause of most cases of
researchers from Cancer Research UK found the longer a woman took
the Pill for, the greater her risk of developing cervical cancer.
said the pattern remained the same even when other factors, such
as HPV infection, smoking and number of sexual partners were taken
Pill is highly effective in preventing pregnancy and
reduces the risk of both cancer of the ovaries and
Anne Weyman, Family Planning Association
said the use of hormonal contraceptives could be a factor in women
developing the disease.
they stressed more research was needed to show if women remain
at an increased risk of cervical cancer after they have stopped
taking the Pill.
they say it is vitally important women continue to be screened
for cervical cancer, whether or not they take the Pill.
3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year in the
from Cancer Research UK's epidemiology unit in Oxford and the
international agency for research on cancer reviewed 28 studies,
covering around 12,500 women, which had looked at Pill use
and cervical cancer.
found that compared with women who had never used the Pill, women
had a 10% increased risk of cervical cancer
if they had taken the Pill for less than five years, 60% for five
to nine years' use and double the risk if they had taken it for
10 years or more.
Amy Berrington, from the Cancer Research UK epidemiology unit
at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford, says: "This study shows
that use of hormonal contraceptives for long periods of time may
increase the risk of cervical cancer.
the public health implications of these findings largely depend
on whether this risk remains long after use of hormonal contraceptives
has stopped and this cannot be properly evaluated from published
is some evidence to suggest that the risk may drop after women
stop using the pill but further research is needed to confirm
Lesley Walker, director of information at Cancer Research UK said:
"Previous studies have shown that the pill may increase the
risk of breast cancer and lower the risk of ovarian cancer.
the new data suggests that it could raise the risk of cervical
cancer. It's vitally important that we continue to gather all
the information we can on cancer risk and the pill so women can
make fully informed choices about contraception."
Anne Weyman, chief executive of the Family Planning Association,
said the benefits of taking the Pill outweighed the risks for
said: "The Pill is highly effective in preventing pregnancy
and reduces the risk of both cancer of the ovaries and womb.
findings suggest that the longer a woman uses the pill, the greater
her risk of developing cervical cancer, but the UK's national
cervical screening programme means the absolute risk of developing
cervical cancer remains very low."