Women Who Take The Pill May Live Longer


Women who have ever taken the Pill have likely heard about the risks, including a greater chance of developing blood clots, heart attack, or stroke, especially if they smoked, or an increased risk of death mainly due to vascular problems in older women or in those who smoked. Now a new report says that women who are taking or who have taken the Pill may live longer.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit that advances sexual and reproductive health through education, research, and policy, oral contraceptive pills are the main form of contraception used by women in the United States. The latest figures available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 82.3 percent (44.6 million) of women ages 15 to 44 have ever used the Pill, and that 19.2 percent (11.8 million) of women in that same age group current use it.

The results of the new study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Aberdeen, note that women who have taken the Pill are less likely to die from all cancers and any other disease than women who have never taken the oral contraceptive pill. The women in the study were the 46,000 enrolled in the Royal College of General Practitioners’ Oral Contraception Study in 1968.


Although Pill users had better mortality overall, women in all age groups did not fare the same. Among women younger than 30 there were 20 more deaths per 100,000 women, and among those ages 30 to 39, there were four more deaths per 100,000.

Among older women, however, the pendulum swung the other way. Women who were older than 70 showed 308 fewer deaths per 100,000; those 60 to 69 had 122 fewer deaths, women 50 to 59 had 86 fewer deaths, and those aged 40 to 49 had 14 fewer deaths.

The Pill was developed and released as a treatment for gynecological disorders in 1957. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1960 as a method of birth control, and by 1963, about 1.2 million women were using it. A twenty-something women who used the Pill when it first became available would be in her seventies today.

Professor Philip Hannaford, one of the study’s authors, noted that many women, especially those who were among the first users of the Pill, “are likely to be reassured by our results.” One caveat is that the formulations of the Pill have changed over the years, and the apparent link between using the Pill and living longer may not apply to women who are taking today’s Pill.

Cancer Research UK
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Guttmacher Institute