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CCL News. 1977 Nov-Dec;4(3):3.

Death rates and the pill.



In an article entitled "Mortality among Oral-Contraceptive Users" published in the October 1977 issue of "Lancet" the death rate from diseases of the circulatory system in women who had used oral contraceptives, was 5 times that of controls who had never used the pill. For those who had taken the oral contraceptive continuously for 5 years or more, the death rate was 10 times that of the controls. The excess deaths in oral contraceptive users were due to a wide range of vascular conditions. The excess was substantially greater than the death rate from complications of pregnancy in the controls and was double the accident death rate. The excess mortality rate increased with age, cigarette smoking, and duration of oral contraceptive use. In regard to the finding in the United Kingdom study that the excess pill mortality rate was substantially greater than from complications of pregnancy in the controls, it is important to note the contrary statements made in the "Federal Register" of December 7, 1976. The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare listed its proposed revised physicial and patient labeling for the pills and presented contrary statements. According to the proposed labeling, "the risk of death from all methods of birth control is low compared to the risks of childbirth, except for oral contraceptives in women over 40." Suspicions about the truth of this proposed labeling statement have been confirmed by Dr. Herbert Ratner who has pointed out that most of the childbirth risk falls within an identifiable high-risk group for whom the oral contraceptive should be contraindicated on purely medical grounds. The Royal College report provides additional confirmation that the overall mortality risks of the oral contraceptive exceed the overall mortality risks of childbirth.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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