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Global Oral Contraceptive Use Tied to Prostate Cancer Incidence

Ecological study shows oral contraceptive use linked to prostate cancer incidence, death worldwide

TUESDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Population-based use of oral contraceptives (OC) is significantly associated with increased prostate cancer incidence and mortality, according to a study published online Nov. 14 in BMJ Open.

David Margel, M.D., and Neil E. Fleshner, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Toronto, investigated the association between prostate cancer incidence and mortality and population-based use of OCs in an ecological study. Data for age-standardized rates of prostate cancer were obtained from the International Agency for Research on Cancer and those for contraceptive use were collected from the United Nations World Contraceptive Use 2007 report. The association of prostate cancer incidence and mortality with the percentage of women using OCs, intrauterine devices, condoms, or vaginal barriers was determined using a Pearson correlation and multivariable regression analysis. Analyses were carried out for individual nations and continents worldwide.

The investigators found that OC use was significantly associated with prostate cancer incidence and mortality in individual nations (r = 0.61 and 0.53, respectively), and prostate cancer incidence was significantly associated with OC use in Europe and by continent (r = 0.545 and 0.522, respectively). There was no correlation between use of intra-uterine devices, condoms, or vaginal barriers and the risk of prostate cancer incidence or mortality. The association with OC use was independent of a nation's wealth on multivariable analysis.

"It is hypothesized that the OC effect may be mediated through environmental estrogen levels; this novel concept is worth further investigation," the authors write.

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