Birth control pill linked to longer female lifespans

New evidence suggests that women who used first generation birth control pills in the 1960s and 70s may have experienced longer lifespans as a result.

The study, which followed more than 46,000 British women over a 40 year span, suggests that while there’s an initial increase in certain health risks when using the pill, that didn’t necessarily remain the case over the long term. In fact, women who used the contraceptive method over time actually saw an eventual lower rate of certain diseases of up to twelve percent.

Rates of uterine, bowel and ovarian cancers were lower amongst women in the study, as well as instances of death due to heart disease and stroke. One strange factor was noted in the mortality rates of pill users versus abstainers, though. Women who used the pill tended to have a higher risk of “violent deaths.”

Users of the pill should note that the method is not without risk, but that benefits may kick in later:

Women who take birth control pills do need to consider potential risks, including an increased risk for blood clots, and should discuss their medical histories with their doctors prior to taking the pill. While the study found that, overall taking the pill at some point in life reduced a woman’s risk of death due to cancer or other conditions, researchers did find a slightly increased risk for death from any caused among women younger than 45 who had stopped using the pill five to nine years earlier. After 10 years, however, that additional risk disappeared, and benefits to longevity later in life offset those initial heightened risks, the researchers concluded.

Results of the original study can be found here.