Women who use the oral contraceptive pill can expect to live longer, say researchers.
According to a new study, published on bmj.com, women who use the pill are less likely to die from any cause, including all cancers and heart disease, compared with others who don't use it.
The results of the UK study showed a slightly higher risk in women under 45 years old who are current or recent users of the pill.
In the study, which was led by Professor Philip Hannaford from the University of Aberdeen, 46,000 women were followed for up to nearly 40 years, creating more than a million woman-years of observation.
The results showed that in the longer term, women who used oral contraception had a significantly lower rate of death from any cause, including heart disease and all cancers (notably bowel, uterine body and ovarian cancers) compared with never users.
Hannaford says: "Many women, especially those who used the first generation of oral contraceptives many years ago, are likely to be reassured by our results. However, our findings might not reflect the experience of women using oral contraceptives today, if currently available preparations have a different risk than earlier products."
The authors conclude that their results show that "oral contraception is not significantly associated with an increased long-term risk of death…indeed a net benefit was apparent." However, they point out that "the balance of risks and benefits may vary globally, depending upon patterns of oral contraception usage and background risk of disease."