Deaths from ovarian cancer fell significantly in Western countries from 2002 to 2012 and should continue declining largely thanks to widespread contraceptive pill use, researchers said Tuesday.
Deaths fell 16 per cent in the United States, 10 per cent in the 28 European Union nations excluding Cyprus, for which there was no data, and eight percent in Canada.
In Japan, which has a lower ovarian cancer rate than many other countries, the death rate fell two per cent, said a study published in the Annals of Oncology.
In Australia and New Zealand, deaths declined 12 per cent from 2002 to 2011 — the most recent year for which data was available.
“The main reason for the favourable trends is the use of oral contraceptives,” the authors wrote.
“The falls were greater in young and middle-aged women than in the elderly, and earlier and larger in the U.S., the U.K. and northern Europe,” they said.
“These are the countries where oral contraceptives (OCs) — which have a long-term protective effect on ovarian cancer risk — were introduced earlier and used more frequently.”
A decline in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to manage menopausal symptoms, as well as better cancer diagnosis and treatment, may also have played a role.
HRT, which uses oestrogen or progestogen to ease menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, vaginal dryness and a low sex drive, is thought to increase the risk of ovarian cancer — by as much as 40 per cent according to a 2015 study. The pill, on the other hand, is generally accepted to protect against the disease, dubbed a “silent killer” as it is often spotted too late. — AFP
Deaths fell 16% in the U.S., 10% in
the 28 European Union nations from 2002 to 2012
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