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Epidemiology. 1998 May;9(3):295-300.

Oral contraceptive use and risk of colorectal cancer.

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  • 1Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Milan, Italy.


To evaluate the relation between oral contraceptives and colon and rectal cancer, we analyzed combined data from two case-control studies conducted in six Italian regions between 1985 and 1996. The studies included 803 women with incident colon cancer, 429 with rectal cancer, and 2,793 controls with acute, nonneoplastic, nondigestive, non-hormone-related disorders. We estimated odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) from unconditional multiple logistic regression equations, including terms for age, center/study period, education, family history of colorectal cancer, menopausal status, age at menopause, parity, use of hormone replacement therapy, body mass index [weight (kg) per height squared (m2)], and total energy intake. Ever-use of oral contraceptives was inversely associated with colon cancer (OR = 0.63; 95% CI = 0.45-0.87) and rectal cancer (OR = 0.66; 95% CI = 0.43-1.01). Duration of use of oral contraceptives was inversely related to risk of colon but not rectal cancer. This study suggests that women who have ever used oral contraceptives are at lower risk of colon and rectal cancer.

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