Good news for birth control users: A 44-year-long study found no increased lifetime cancer risk in women who used the birth control pill, compared with women who never did.
Women who had used birth control pills had a lower risk of several cancers, including colorectal, endometrial, and ovarian cancers.
Plus, the reduced risk of colorectal and ovarian cancer seemed to persist for many years after stopping — possibly more than 35 years, noted the study authors.
An increased risk of breast and cervical cancer was seen in current and recent birth control users, but those associations disappeared about five years after stopping the method.
The study found no evidence of an increased risk of either cancer later in life for women who had used birth control pills.
So even if you've been using birth control pills for the better part of a decade, it's encouraging to see that this 44-year study didn't find any long-term consequences associated with that.
Still a little worried about that slight increased risk while taking the pill? You probably don't need to be.
Of course, there are some limitations to this study. Most obviously: It started almost 50 years ago.
The birth control pills most women were using in this study were very different than the ones we use today. According to the study, their birth control pills usually contained 50 micrograms of estrogen, while most pills today contain about 20–30 micrograms.
Plus, the mean amount of time these women used birth control was 3.66 years, while most people stay on it for much longer than that these days.
The study authors also noted that they didn't recruit women with chronic diseases for this study, so it's possible they had a healthier-than-average cohort.
All that said, it's the longest-running study on the long-term effects of birth control, and that's pretty damn impressive.