Oral contraceptive pills and cancer risks

I refer to the article “Bahaya… Jangan ambil jalan singkat makan pil perancang elak hamil” dated Aug 25.

The article seems to quote a Facebook post by a woman linking her benign liver tumour termed hepatic adenoma to her use of long-term oral contraceptive pills.

While there is some association between this particular form of tumour and the contraceptive pills, they are mainly associated with the older generation high-dose contraceptive pills that were prevalent 30 to 50 years ago. The doses in these pills were two to 10 times higher than the doses of modern-day formulations. The current generation of contraceptive pills is significantly safer.

Hepatic adenoma is a rare form of liver tumour that affects one to 1.3 per million in the general population.

Modern contraceptive pills are safe, especially when they are prescribed by healthcare professionals following World Health Organisation guidance.

In addition, the long-term use of oral contraceptive pills is associated with a significant reduction in ovarian, endometrial (uterus) and colorectal (bowel) cancer risks, up to as high as 50% with such reduction remaining evident even up to decades after stopping the pills.

Usage of oral contraceptive pills including other types of hormonal and non-hormonal contraceptive methods allows women to prevent unintended pregnancies and their consequences such as abortions, miscarriages and even deaths from pregnancy-related complications.

In addition, the use of modern contraception also enables women to plan their families and spacing of childbirths. This in turn empowers women economically, allowing them to protect their health and improve their quality of life.

In short, the immense benefits of contraception for women who do not wish to become pregnant are clear and definite.

I sincerely hope that this clears any misinformation. That report should have been well researched prior to publishing. Simply quoting an unsubstantiated Facebook post with a scare mongering title without understanding the facts can do untold damage to many, especially when the subject matter is health.

Dr John Teo is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.