Birth control, as many of us know, has benefits beyond preventing unplanned pregnancy. But new research shows that taking the pill might have a benefit we don't think about quite as often: Protection against cancer.
According to a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, taking birth control pills might help prevent certain forms of cancer. The study, from the University of Aberdeen, followed 46,000 women over the course of up to 44 years, in the longest-running study on the effects of oral contraceptives.
The study found that pill users were less likely to develop colorectal, endometrial, and ovarian cancers than those who had never taken the pill. Researchers discovered that one in three women taking the pill "during their reproductive years" were protected from developing ovarian and endometrial cancers, while one in five were protected from colorectal cancer.
"Because the study has been going for such a long time we are able to look at the very long-term effects, if there are any, associated with the pill," Lisa Iverson, PhD, lead author of the study, told The Guardian. "What we found from looking at up to 44 years worth of data was that having ever used the pill, women are less likely to get colorectal, endometrial and ovarian cancer."
"So, the protective benefits from using the pill during their reproductive years are lasting for at least 30 years after women have stopped using the pill," she added.
Last year, it was found that the pill might also help lower the risk for ovarian cancer. However, as the American Cancer Society notes, taking birth control pills could also slightly increase risk for breast and cervical cancer, so you may want to discuss with your doctor what forms of birth control work best for you. However, if you're already taking the pill, these are some additional benefits you might not have known about.