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Cancer Causes Control. 1994 May;5(3):227-33.

Recency, duration, and progestin content of oral contraceptives in relation to the incidence of endometrial cancer (Washington, USA).

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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98195.


Women who have used combined oral contraceptives (COC) have a reduced risk of endometrial cancer relative to that of women who have never used oral contraceptives, but it is unclear whether the size of the reduction is influenced by the progestin content of the preparation. We analyzed data from two population-based case-control studies of endometrial cancer to investigate this question. Among women aged 40 to 59 years who were residents of King or Pierce Counties, Washington (United States), incident cases who were diagnosed during 1975-77 or 1985-87 were identified. Personal interviews were conducted with 316 such women and their responses compared with those of 501 controls who were selected by household surveys or random-digit dialing. A reduced risk of endometrial cancer associated with COC use was present only among users of five or more years' duration, and even then only in women who were not long-term users of unopposed postmenopausal estrogens. Among these women, the relative risk (RR) of endometrial cancer did not differ according to the progestin potency of the COC used: it was equally low for women who had used a COC with low progestin content (RR = 0.2, 95 percent confidence interval [CI] = 0.1-0.8) as for women who had used a COC with high progestin content (RR = 0.3, CI = 0.1-0.9). Our results argue that, if the reduced risk of endometrial cancer in long-term users of COCs is due to the progestins contained in these preparations, that amount of progestin in most COCs exceeds the threshold amount needed to produce this beneficial effect.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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