Margaret Polaneczky, MD

Margaret Polaneczky, MD
New York City, New York, USA
December 17
I practice medicine, cook and wax prolific in NYC. You can also read me at, where I've been blogging since 2006.


Margaret Polaneczky, MD's Links
APRIL 12, 2012 8:53AM

Now For the Good News – Depo-Provera Prevents Ovarian Cancer

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We’ve known for years that birth control pills protect against ovarian cancer, with an up to 80% reduction in risk with long term use.  Now it appears that use of Depo-Provera may convey a similar benefit.

In a large multicenter case control study in Thailand, use of Depo Provera led to a 39% reduction in ovarian cancer risk. Long term use for three years or more reduced the risk of ovarian cancer by a whopping 83%.  Oh, and by the way, in case you didn’t know it, Depo-Provera also protects against uterine cancer, doing it so well that it is actually used as treatment for uterine cancer.

That’s important information for women using Depo Provera to know, particularly in light of recent media attention to the potential for breast cancer in long term Depo Provera users under age 35.

To put it all into perspective, the risk for breast cancer in women under age 35 is about a 0.2% (1 in 500). The lifetime risk for ovarian cancer is about 1.5% (1 in 66). The lifetime risk of endometrial cancer is about 2.5% (1 in 40). Unlike the possible breast cancer risks, which disappear when Depo-Provera is stopped, the protections against ovarian and endometrial cancer appear to be lifelong.

All of these cancer risks are low in comparison to the risk of unplanned pregnancy, which comprise close to half of the pregnancies conceived each year in the United States. For most women, concerns about raising or lowering cancer risk is not the driving force behind choice of contraceptive.  But on balance, the cancer risk/benefit ration of Depo-Provera appears to be quite favorable and on par with that of combined oral contraceptives.

For women who need effective birth control, that’s good news.

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