The Pill Extends Life Expectancy
LONDON -- Did you take birth control pills in the late 1960s or later? If so, you may have hit the jackpot. A new study shows that the pill has a positive effect on women's health, even increasing life expectancy.
British researchers observed more than 46,000 women for nearly four decades from 1968. They compared the number of deaths in women on the pill to those who never took it.
In the study, women on the pill generally took it for almost four years. Experts concluded the pill cut women's risk of dying from bowel cancer by 38 percent and from any other diseases by about 12 percent.
The research was published Friday in the British medical journal, BMJ.
Slightly higher death rates were found among women under 30 on the pill, but that began to be reversed by age 50.
Doctors aren't sure exactly why the pill may lower death rates. It contains synthetic hormones to suppress ovulation, which may have some role in preventing certain diseases.
Previous studies have found the pill does not raise the risk of dying. It also may protect against ovarian and endometrial cancer, but slightly increase the chances of breast and cervical cancer. It may also be that women on the pill are somehow healthier than those that aren't.
Because the study only observed women on the pill compared with those who weren't, researchers weren't able to make any hypotheses about cause and effect.