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Birth Control Pills May Cut Risk of Knee Injuries

Study finds they improve stability of joints

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 17, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Taking birth control pills may stabilize knee joints and reduce the risk of injuries, suggests a McGill University study.

The researchers assessed the knee stability of 78 female athletes -- 42 were taking birth control pills and 36 were not -- by using a device called an anthrometer to measure any displacement of the women's knees.

The women who were taking birth control pills had much less displacement than the women who weren't taking the pill, indicating tighter knee joints that may be less susceptible to ligament tears or injuries, they said.

"Young women athletes may benefit from taking the pill," study author Paul Martineau, chief resident in the division of orthopedic surgery at McGill University Health Centre, said in a prepared statement.

"Some of these women may be at high risk for knee ligament injuries. Oral contraceptive pill use may reduce this risk and be an option for these athletes," Martineau said.

He noted that women athletes are four to eight times more likely to suffer a serious knee injury than their male counterparts. Previous research has found female hormones may play a role in altering ligament composition.

The latest study appeared in a recent issue of the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about women athletes and knee injuries.

SOURCE: McGill University, news release, Nov. 15, 2004
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