Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland are developing a contraceptive that may protect against breast cancer while helping to treat fibroids, endometriosis and premenstrual syndrome.
The pill works by blocking the hormone progesterone, thereby stopping the monthly period cycle. Initial tests, conducted on 90 women, have provided positive results and shown few side effects.
"If you reduce the cyclical exposure of the ovary to the ovarian hormones estrogen and progesterone, you should reduce the risk of breast cancer," said David Baird, professor emeritus of reproductive endocrinology and the study's lead researcher. He noted that the research was still at a very early stage, but indicated the new pill could be available within five years. With the current pill, he added, "there can be side effects "it is theoretically possible to design a type of pill that is not only safe, but also protects against long-term risks."