Study supports idea that women who took birth control pills live longer

April 1, 2010

Women who have taken birth control pills can count on living longer; these women also have less chance of dying from any cause, according to new study findings.

Women who have taken birth control pills can count on living longer. These women also have less chance of dying from any cause, such as cancer or heart disease, according to a large study published in the April British Medical Journal.

The study involved 46,000 women who were observed for nearly 40 years. For the 40-year duration, the study showed that women who used oral contraceptives had a much lower rate of death from any cause, including heart disease and all cancers, compared with women who had never taken the pill.

Researchers noted a caveat that the findings may only apply to women who have taken some of the older types of contraceptive pills, since the study started in 1968.

The study, known as the Royal College of General Practitioners' Oral Contraception Study, is one of the world’s largest continuing studies into the health effects of oral contraceptives. The latest data indicate a marginally greater risk of death of any cause in women under age 45 who currently or recently used the pill. However, researchers noted that the effect in younger women goes away after approximately 10 years and that the positive effects in older women are greater than the risks in younger women.