Suddenly it seems the value of birth control as protection is about to skyrocket, as researchers suggest that any type of contraceptive may also help prevent the onset of ovarian cancer.
According to findings of researchers from the University of Texas, women who use any kind of contraception – birth control, the barrier method (using diaphragms), intrauterine devices (IUDs), tubal ligation, even male vasectomy – were between 40% and 65% less likely to develop ovarian cancer.
This is in comparison to women who either did not use contraception, or used methods the researchers deemed ineffective (including withdrawal and natural family planning).
“Not matter what method of contraception you use, it looks like that would be protective,” said Dr. Roberta Ness, the study’s lead author.
The conclusions were derived from the scientists interviewing 869 women with ovarian cancer, and 1779 without, about their birth control methods and history. Initial results stated that women who had had tubal ligation or took birth control pills were found less likely to develop ovarian cancer.
Scientists were surprised, however, to find that a lowered risk of ovarian cancer was also present in women who opted for other contraception methods.
One procedure was male vasectomy (17% did not develop ovarian cancer, compared to 14% who did). Scientists linked this to sperm’s possible contribution in exacerbating inflamed areas of the woman’s reproductive system, potentially leading to ovarian cancer.
Therefore, experts posited that methods that reduce a woman’s exposure to sperm can protect her from aggravated inflammation, therefore reducing her chances of developing ovarian cancer.