Oral contraceptive use and ovarian cancer

Raymond S. Greenberg, Elaine Brockman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An inverse relationship between combination oral contraceptive use and risk of subsequent ovarian cancer has been noted among several case-control studies. In this review of 9 such studies, the estimated odds ratios varied between 0.3 and 0.8, significant at the 5 percent level in 5 studies. The protective effect of combination oral contraceptive use was modified by duration of use, age and/or parity. This effect persisted when controlling for the influence of age, education, parity, infertility, and ages at menarche, first pregnancy and menopause. Two potential systematic errors, protopathic and detection bias, are considered in this review. Alternatively, oral contraceptive use may provide a true protective effect. Criteria for the evaluation of a causal relationship are applied to the cited study results. In addition, two biological mechanisms for the observed findings, "incessant" ovulation and gonadotropin suppression, are reviewed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-185
Number of pages9
JournalAdvances in the Biosciences
Issue numberC
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes


  • case-control
  • causality
  • contraception
  • Oral contraceptives
  • ovarian neoplasms


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