Four decades celebrated of world leading pill study

Four decades celebrated of world leading pill study

One of the world’s most detailed and most influential studies of the contraceptive pill is being celebrated in Aberdeen later this week.

GPs, family planning workers and women's

health researchers will gather for a key conference taking place on Friday (November

14) to mark the 40th anniversary of the Royal College of General Practitioners

Oral Contraception Study.

In 1968/69 1400 GPs from all over

the UK recruited 46,000 women onto this study which set out to

investigate the health benefits of oral contraception which had been introduced

to Britain

eight years earlier. Half of the women on the study were on the pill and half

were not.

The study began in Manchester but has been led by Professor Phil Hannaford at the University of Aberdeen

since 1997. More than half of the original cohort of women is still being

followed-up.

Over the years study results have

been published in more than 130 scientific papers,

generating crucial information for policymakers and GPs all over the world.

One of the study findings which

made international headlines was last year's announcement of research led by Professor

Hannaford which found that the pill does not increase a woman's chances of

developing cancer; indeed it may even reduce the risk for many women.

Other important findings include:

Pregnant women with pre-eclampsia

are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease in later life

Being the first to show a woman's

risk of stroke or heart disease whilst using the pill is much higher in older

women and among smokers

Evidence about the long-term safety

of sterilisation and hysterectomy

Friday's conference at the University of Aberdeen's King's College Centre is a celebration

of the past four decades.

Speakers include Dr Clifford Kay,

former Director of the Royal College of General Practitioners Manchester

Research Unit, who originally founded the study.

Internationally renowned

epidemiologist Professor Valerie Beral from the University

of Oxford and an honorary graduate of

the University of

Aberdeen will also give a

talk.

Professor Hannaford said: "It is

an honour for the University

of Aberdeen to be at the

helm of such a prestigious study which is assessing the safety of a method of

contraception that is used every day by more than 100 million women around the

world.

"Our conference is a celebration

of the Royal College of General Practitioners Oral Contraception Study.  It will look at its history and reflect on

some of its key findings.

"We will also look at how

research and contraceptive practice has changed over the past 40 years.

"We will also outline where the

study is going and why it continues to have an extremely exciting and dynamic

future. For example, we have

recently been given permission to link,

in an anonymous way, our data to any

hospital admissions experienced by women recruited for the study. This will

enable us to look at a number of issues related to women's health, not just the safety of the pill."

Friday's conference takes place

between 10am and 3.45pm and is open to academics,

PhD students, women's health workers, doctors and anyone else with an interest in this

field. Anyone wishing to attend should email Margaret Ross on href="mailto:m.a.ross@abdn.ac.uk">m.a.ross@abdn.ac.uk</a> or ring 01224 559456.

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