Unveiling the link between birth control pills, childbirth, and cervical cancer risk: insights from Dr. Summia Zaher.

Experts in the medical field, convened in Abu Dhabi, have issued a cautionary statement led by Dr. Summia Zaher, highlighting the increased susceptibility to cervical cancer associated with extended usage of birth control pills and the experience of multiple childbirths. As the fourth most common cancer affecting women worldwide, cervical cancer necessitates a closer examination of its hormonal links and the imperative need for preventive measures, as outlined by Dr. Summia, who serves as the medical director at M42’s Danat Al Emarat Hospital in Abu Dhabi.

Dr. Summia delved into the hormonal connection to cervical cancer, emphasizing the role of naturally occurring hormones, such as oestrogen and progesterone, and their synthetic counterparts found in birth control pills. She pointed out that prolonged use of contraceptives, particularly exceeding five years, correlates with an increased risk, with a notable doubling for those exceeding a decade of use. Importantly, Dr. Summia highlighted that the risk gradually diminishes after discontinuation of oral contraceptives.

The discussion extended to the impact of childbirth on cervical cancer risk, with Dr. Summia noting that women with multiple children may face a higher risk due to increased exposure to HPV infection and hormonal changes during pregnancy. The timing of pregnancies also emerged as a significant factor, with those having their first full-term pregnancy before the age of 20 facing a higher risk.

In addition to hormonal factors and childbirth, Dr. Summia underscored other risk factors for cervical cancer, including family history, smoking, dietary habits, and economic status. The accessibility of healthcare services, including screenings and vaccinations, was identified as a potential contributing factor to higher risks among lower-income women.

To mitigate the risk of cervical cancer, experts advocated for regular screening tests, which can detect changes in cervical cells before they become cancerous. Dr. Shweta Narang, the medical director and director of clinical operations at M42’s National Reference Laboratory, emphasized the crucial role of precise screening methods for early detection. Given that HPV infection is a major contributor to cervical cancer, the primary screening method involves a combination of Pap tests and HPV screening.