Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pill 'lowers ovarian cancer risk'

Contraceptive pill 

BBC News

The study looked at the combined oral contraceptive pill
Women who take the Pill for 10 years almost halve their risk of ovarian cancer, according to a study.
But experts say this must be balanced against the risk of breast cancer, which is higher in women on the Pill.
For every 100,000 women on the Pill for 10 years there are 50 extra breast cancers and 12 fewer ovarian cancers, data shows.
The study is published in the British Journal of Cancer.
It adds weight to previous research suggesting factors like the Pill and pregnancy can impact on cancer risk by changing the level of hormones in the body.
Dr Richard Edmondson of the Northern Institute for Cancer Research at the University of Newcastle, said: "Women may be reassured to know that the oral contraceptive is not only an effective contraceptive but can have the added benefit of reducing their risk of ovarian cancer.

“These results are important because most women don't know that taking the Pill or getting pregnant can help reduce their risk of ovarian cancer later on in life”

End Quote Naomi Allen University of Oxford
"This is however balanced against a slightly increased risk of developing breast cancer.
"To put this in context, it is estimated that if 100,000 women use the Pill for 10 years or more, there will be 50 more breast cancers than would have otherwise occurred, but 12 fewer ovarian cancers.
"This may be particularly important for women with an increased risk of ovarian cancer in their family."
Large study The study followed more than 300,000 women enrolled in a large European study known as EPIC (European Prospective Investigation of Cancer).
The women were taking the combined oral contraceptive pill, which contains two hormones, an oestrogen and a progestogen.
Researchers say they found evidence that taking the Pill for 10 years reduced the risk of ovarian cancer by almost half, compared with women who had used the contraceptive for a year or less.

The data

  • There were about 28 ovarian cancer cases per 100,000 women who used the Pill for a year or less
  • There were about 15 ovarian cancer cases per 100,000 women who took the Pill for at least 10 years
  • Among women who have never been pregnant, there were 34 ovarian cancer cases per 100,000 women
  • Among women who have gone through pregnancy at least once there were 24 ovarian cancer cases per 100,000 women
The team also say it found evidence that having a baby reduced the risk of ovarian cancer; the more children a woman had, the bigger the protection.
However, they add that their research did not find evidence of a link between breastfeeding and protection against ovarian cancer, which has been found in some other studies.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women in the UK, with more than 6,500 cases diagnosed each year. Several factors are known to play a role including age, faults in certain genes, obesity and smoking.
Danger signs Naomi Allen is an epidemiologist for Cancer Research UK at the University of Oxford who works on the EPIC study.
She said: "Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect and so prevention is key to saving women suffering from this disease.
"These results are important because most women don't know that taking the Pill or getting pregnant can help reduce their risk of ovarian cancer later on in life."
Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research UK, added: "Treatment for ovarian cancer is better if the disease is caught as early as possible.
"So all women should be aware of the signs of ovarian cancer like pain in the lower tummy, bloating, increased tummy size, difficulty eating or feeling full.
"If these symptoms are new and happen on most days then it's worth getting checked out by your doctor without delay."
Meanwhile a separate study, published in the British Medical Journal, appears to confirm earlier research that suggested that some newer types of contraceptive pill are more likely to cause blood clots.
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, said women on pills containing drospirenone, desogestrel or gestodene had double the risk of clots compared with an older drug, levonorgestrel.

Prostate cancer

Lower IQ 'a heart disease risk'

Heart and circulatory disease is the UK’s biggest killer

BBC News

Having a lower than average IQ is in itself a risk factor for heart disease, say UK researchers.
Given the findings, public health messages on things like exercise and diet could be simplified, the authors say in the European Heart Journal.
In the study of over 4,000 people, IQ alone explained more than 20% of the difference in mortality between high and low socioeconomic groups.
This applied even when known heart disease risk factors were considered.
Dr David Batty, who led the research for the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council, said: "We already know that socio-economically disadvantaged people have worse health and tend to die earlier from conditions such as heart disease, cancer and accidents.
I think the public health messages on things like diet, exercise and smoking could be simplified
Lead researcher Dr David Batty
"Environmental exposures and health-related behaviours, such as smoking, diet and physical activity, can explain some of this difference, but not all of it."
He said this raises the possibility that as yet unmeasured psychological factors need to be considered and that one of these is intelligence or cognitive function, commonly referred to as IQ.
His team at the University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh studied a group of 4,289 former US soldiers from all walks of life.
As expected from past trends, those on low incomes and with less education had a higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
Health promotion
But when the researchers took into account IQ and controlled for nine other known heart disease risk factors, IQ alone explained 23% of the differences in mortality between the highest and lowest socioeconomic groups in the study.
They offer several possible explanations for this - low IQ scores might simply be a marker of underlying poor health or intelligence might lead to greater knowledge about how to keep healthy.
Dr Batty said, whatever the explanation, the findings imply the IQ of the public should be considered more carefully when preparing health promotion campaigns.
"I think the public health messages on things like diet, exercise and smoking could be simplified.
"For instance, we often read about how some types of alcohol are good for you while others, or even the same ones, are not. The messages can be difficult to interpret, even by knowledgeable people."
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "If we are to make real progress on tackling health inequalities we need health campaigns designed to reach everyone in the community and an environment that makes healthy choices easy choices for the whole population.
"One way to achieve this would be through clear and consistent front of pack food labelling to replace the confusing hotchpotch of schemes we currently have."
He urged the government to implement a single traffic light food labelling scheme as soon as possible.
Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, said: "People with lower IQ also tend to miss out on preventive healthcare.
"They are less likely to have check-ups, follow lifestyle advice, take preventive medication and be referred for preventive hospital treatment. We must find ways to break down these barriers."

Cholesterol heart disease