WHI data suggest O/Cs prevent heart disease and cancer

November 1, 2004

While the Women's Health Initiative questioned the value of long-term HRT in preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD), a new analysis of the raw data presented at the annual ASRM meeting in Philadelphia strongly suggests that long-term use of OCs does protect a woman's heart, and reduces the threat of cancer.

While the Women's Health Initiative questioned the value of long-term HRT in preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD), a new analysis of the raw data presented at the annual ASRM meeting in Philadelphia strongly suggests that long-term use of OCs does protect a woman's heart, and reduces the threat of cancer.

A retrospective analysis of about 67,000 women on combination OCs found an 8% reduction in the risk of ever developing CVD, after confounding variables such as age, diabetes, smoking, and body mass index were taken into account. OCs also seemed to reduce the likelihood of developing hypercholesterolemia by 11%, angina by 9%, and myocardial infarction and transient ischemic attacks by 10%. The longer a woman was on OCs, the greater their protective effects. Those on the Pill for less than a year saw no significant effects, while those on it for at least 8 years experienced the greatest benefits.

Similarly long-term OC use reduced the overall risk of any cancer by 7% and the threat of endometrial and ovarian cancer by 18% and 19%. It didn't specifically protect women from breast cancer, however. (Abstracts O-130 and O-259, Fertil Steril. Vol 82; Suppl 2, 2004).