Funding boost for new approach to reduce gynaecological cancers

Monday, 29 July 2019

Researchers from the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute are determined to shift the way society views contraceptive pills and reproductive health in an effort to reduce gynaecological cancers.

Female reproductive health has major implications for developing ovarian cancer as women who have children or use combined contraceptive pills are at a reduced risk of getting this deadly disease.

The University was awarded a $566,000 grant through the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation over the next three years to continue its ongoing research.

The Newcastle team has researched the link between preventing cancer and contraceptive pills for the past 10 years.

The research looks at how changes in female reproductive hormones affect the risk of getting ovarian cancer and how we can use medicines that are already on the market to reduce the risk of this disease.

Associate Professor Pradeep Tanwar and his team had a breakthrough in 2016 when they uncovered the fundamental basis by which combined contraceptive pills decrease the risk of ovarian cancer.

The risk is reduced by almost 50 per cent if women are on the pill for three to five years, Professor Tanwar said.

The University team is now on a mission to reframe the way we think of the pill, how hormones drive cancer and how we can prevent cancer.

“With the pill, our aim is to shift the focus from birth control to cancer prevention,” Professor Tanwar said.

“At the moment, there is little advice out there for women who want to reduce their risk of cancer.

“We are developing a strong scientific foundation that shows the benefits of using contraceptive pills to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer and other gynaecological cancers.

“Fortunately, many drugs are already approved for other gynaecological diseases, which could be used for the purpose of preventing ovarian cancer.”

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