Women who use oral contraception may be reducing their risk of developing cancer, experts have said.
A new study by scientists at the University of Aberdeen, published in the British Medical Journal, found that taking the pill cuts a woman's overall risk of developing cancer, cancelling out the previously-documented increased risk of breast and cervical cancer with long-term protection.
They commented: "In this UK cohort, oral contraception was not associated with an overall increased risk of any cancer, indeed it may even produce a net public health gain."
However, the researchers did note that women who took the pill for longer than eight years had an increased overall risk of developing cancer.
Dr Julie Sharp, a spokeswoman for Cancer Research UK, said: "It remains important for women to be aware of the short-term risks of using the pill, such as an increased risk of breast and cervical cancer, but this research suggests that these risks may be balanced out by health benefits over the longer term."
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