Hormonal content of combined oral contraceptives in relation to the reduced risk of endometrial carcinoma. The WHO Collaborative Study of Neoplasia and Steroid Contraceptives

Int J Cancer. 1991 Dec 2;49(6):870-4. doi: 10.1002/ijc.2910490612.


The relationship between the strength of the estrogenic and progestational components of combined oral contraceptives and risk of endometrial carcinoma was examined in a multinational hospital-based case-control study comparing 220 cases from 7 countries with 1,537 age- and hospital-matched controls. Oral contraceptives were classified according to their relative content of estrogen and progestin. The risk was not altered in women who used preparations containing high-dose estrogen/low-dose progestin compounds [odds ratio (OR) = 1.10, 95% CI = 0.13-9.96]. In contrast, the risk among users of low-dose estrogen/high-dose progestin oral contraceptives was greatly decreased (OR = 0, 95% CI = 0-1.08). Risks observed for users of high-dose estrogen/high-dose progestin (OR = 0.15, 95% CI = 0.045-0.50) and low-dose estrogen/low-dose progesterone (OR = 0.59, 95% CI = 0.26-1.30) preparations were intermediate between those for users of the 2 other types of preparation. A significantly lower risk was observed for high-dose progestin users than for low-dose users [ratio of odds ratios (ROR) = 0.21, 95% CI = 0.05-0.84]. Although the numbers are small, findings from this study suggest that combined oral contraceptives with varying strengths of estrogen and progestin have different effects on the risk of endometrial carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined