FRIDAY, March 12, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Good news for women who have used birth control pills: A long-term study finds that those who took oral contraceptives at some point in their lives have a lower risk of death than women who never took the "Pill".
"Many women, especially those who used the first generation of oral contraceptives many years ago, are likely to be reassured by our results. However, our findings might not reflect the experience of women using oral contraceptives today, if currently available preparations have a different risk than earlier products," Dr. Philip Hannaford of the University of Aberdeen, leader of a new study, said in a statement.
However, those who took oral contraceptives are at higher risk of violent or accidental death. The authors of the study, which appears online March 12 in the journal BMJ, aren't sure why this that might be so.
Hannaford and colleagues tracked 46,000 women for up to almost 40 years.
In the long term, women who took birth-control pills had a significantly lower risk of death from causes like heart disease and cancers -- even cancers of the uterus and ovary -- compared to other women.
Women younger than 40 who took birth control pills had a slightly higher risk of death, the researchers report.
The authors conclude that, "oral contraception is not significantly associated with an increased long-term risk of death -- indeed a net benefit was apparent."
But, they write, "the balance of risks and benefits may vary globally, depending upon patterns of oral contraception usage and background risk of disease."
For more about birth-control pills, try American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.