Australian researchers are divided over the recent British studies which states that oral contraceptive pill is good for women. The study published in the British Medical Journal says that women who have been on the pill are less likely to die from any cause, including all cancer and heart disease, compared with those who have never been on it.
Based on the study of 46,000 women for nearly 40 years, the research is one of the world's most elaborate contraceptive pill studies. While some Australian experts back the results of the study, others warn the study fails to consider the effect of the pill on the mental health of women.
Professor Jayashri Kulkarni of the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre in Melbourne is concerned about the size of the study and the conclusions drawn from it. She says, There are all sorts of anomalies that worry me. According to her, the are many flaws in the epidemiological study, saying that it is not predictive in side effects and other effects of medication.
Professor Kulkarni stresses that while the pill's physical impact has been studied, there is a vital need to look at how the pill influences women's general wellbeing.
Her years of research studying the link between oral contraceptives and depression in Australian women, showed that the progesterone component of the pill may have a depressive effect and many women describe insidious, slow onset of depression.
In a recent study by Professor John Hopper of the University of Melbourne's School of Population Health, his findings showed that women who had mutation in BRCA 1, (which carried a higher risk fro developing breast and ovarian cancer) the use of oral contraception may protect them from developing ovarian cancer.
Prof Hopper says, So for women with a certain high risk of breast cancer the pill might actually be protective against breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Though there is research showing increased risks for women who take the pill, Hopper says oral contraception has come a long way since it was first introduced in the early 1960s.
Prof Kulkarni feels there is a need for more well-designed trials of different pills so that women and their doctors can best determine the right oral contraceptive for them. She says, The pill is a significant, empowering development for women and the next important step forward is the further development of an effective contraception with optimal physical and mental health safety.
According to the British study, there is a slightly higher risk in women under 45 years of age who are current or recent users of the pill, the study found that the effects in younger women disappear after about 10 years and the benefits in older women outweigh the smaller risks among younger women.